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Where could the Blue Jays look for next year’s Steven Matz?

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As the Toronto Blue Jays’ off-season begins in earnest, one of its most interesting figures in the early going is Steven Matz.

While it will be fascinating to see what the Blue Jays do about the potential departures of free agents Robbie Ray and Marcus Semien, in the immediate term the course with them is clear. On Sunday, the team will offer each a qualifying offer in expectation of seeing both decline to safeguard draft pick compensation if they sign elsewhere. It would be foolish for the Blue Jays to do anything but tender the offers and it would be foolish of the players to do anything but turn them down.

Matz is creating more intrigue because there are legitimate arguments to be made for both offering and not offering the southpaw a QO. Last year, the left-hander posted 2.8 WAR with 150.2 innings of 3.82 ERA ball, which FanGraphs valued at $22.1 million. If he repeats those numbers, he’d be good value on a qualifying offer and considering his age (30) there’s no reason to expect a precipitous decline.

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That said, 2021 was Matz’s best season. He managed just 2.1 WAR in the prior four seasons combined, despite pitching over 400 innings. The former New York Met would likely accept a qualifying offer, and tendering one to him would be buying him at the price reflecting one of his best possible outcomes, when players are normally valued closer to their median projection.

Although payroll flexibility can feel more like a buzzword than a tangible concept at times, the way the Blue Jays value it also factors in. With Hyun-Jin Ryu and George Springer on the books — plus Vladimir Guerrero Jr., and Teoscar Hernandez looking at significant raises through arbitration —it’s harder to come by for Toronto these days. That makes it hard to see the club putting nearly $20 million aside for Matz.

Instead of locking down the 30-year-old, it seems more likely the Blue Jays will be in the market for a new Matz (who doesn’t preclude them from pursuing a higher-end starter). If Toronto wants to strike gold with a back-of-the-rotation starter again it could look to find someone with someone of the qualities Matz brought to the table prior to 2021, which include:

• A rough prior season that brings the price tag down (Matz posted a 9.68 ERA in 30.2 innings in 2020)

• Limited team control (if any) to ensure they’re available

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• Some track record of success, as at least a back-of-the-rotation starter

• Young enough that their recent struggles aren’t likely to be caused by age-related decline

• Something intriguing in their repertoire (like Matz’s high-velocity sinker and above-average changeup)

Here are three guys who could fit the bill:

Dylan Bundy

Age: 28

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Throws: Right

Contract status: Free agent

2021 stats: 8.34 K/9, 3.38 BB/9, 1.99 HR/9 with a 6.06 ERA and 5.51 FIP in 90.2 IP for 0.0 WAR

What went wrong last season: Basically everything. Bundy saw an across-the-board decline in 2021 after providing 65.2 exceptional innings in a shortened 2020. The right-hander’s contact management was particularly poor. After suppressing hard contact across the board in 2020…

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… Bundy couldn’t recreate any of that magic in 2021:

Bundy saw his command and control waver in 2021 as his walk rate rose and he struggled with keeping his changeup and sinker down — leading to power spikes against those pitches.

Why he could be a Matz-type: Although Bundy’s raw stuff has declined significantly since he was a Baltimore Orioles wunderkind nearly a decade ago, it didn’t change much between 2020 and 2021. Now a soft tosser, Bundy actually picked up 0.7 mph on his fastball last year (up to a modest 90.7), and he still has four different pitches with above-average vertical movement and 89th percentile spin rate on his fastball.

He’s clearly not overpowering, but his stuff is compelling in its own way. It’s not hard to imagine him finding a level of success with it somewhere between the form that saw him rack up 2.0 WAR in just 11 starts in 2020 and the struggles that got him booted from an unimpressive Los Angeles Angels rotation last year.

Vince Velasquez

Age: 29

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Throws: Right

Contract status: Free agent

2021 stats: 9.64 K/9, 4.67 BB/9, 2.19 HR/9 with a 6.30 ERA and 5.88 FIP in 94.1 IP for -0.3 WAR

What went wrong last season: Much like Bundy, Velasquez got hit around in 2021.

Unlike Bundy, Velasquez missed some bats along the way, but he also walked far too many batters. The combination of putting hitters on, then letting them make hard contact, was deadly and by the end of the year, he was toiling in a barren San Diego Padres rotation more than a month after the Philadelphia Phillies released him. He’s struggled with control and contact management at times throughout his career, but never as badly as he did in 2021.

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Why he could be a Matz-type: Velasquez’s career numbers don’t jump off the page (particularly his 4.95 ERA), but he’s got two seasons of 2-plus WAR under his belt, and his 9.75 K/9 as a starter ranks 24th league-wide since 2015 — in between Luis Castillo and Noah Syndergaard.

His fastball is a particularly strong pitch with respectable velocity (93.2 mph), strong vertical movement (plus-13 percent above average) and excellent spin rate (75th percentile). As Devan Fink of FanGraphs pointed out in September, there’s reason to believe he could improve if he leaned on it more. Velasquez also has a biting slider with significantly above-average horizontal run (plus-22 percent):

The tools are there with Velasquez, but the Phillies were never able to help him convert them into consistent production. Perhaps another team employing a pitching coach with a growing reputation would have more luck.

Chad Kuhl

Age: 29

Throws: Right

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Contract status: One year of team control with the Pittsburgh Pirates (projected arbitration salary $3 million)

2021 stats: 8.40 K/9, 4.71 BB/9, 1.46 HR/9 with a 4.82 ERA and 5.31 FIP in 80.1 IP for -0.1 WAR

What went wrong last season: After a mediocre start to the year, Kuhl was bumped from the rotation. The right-hander’s walk-to-strikeout ratio of 1.66 as a starter was well below league-average, eroding the Pirates’ faith in him (2.88) despite some superficially acceptable results. Once in the bullpen, he performed even worse (6.75 ERA and 6.31 FIP) on the way to a lost season.

Why he could be a Matz-type: Kuhl last strong season came in 2017, but he has a couple of factors in his favour. The right-hander pairs a solid fastball (67th percentile velocity) with a hard slider in the high 80s, touching the 90s at times:

That’s been his top strikeout pitch in each of his five MLB seasons. It’s never induced a whiff rate below 33.5 percent, and has been worth minus-38 runs since 2017 according to Statcast. Although it’s seldom used, he also wields a curveball with average movement but a gaudy spin rate (79th percentile).

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There’s not a lot in Kuhl’s recent numbers to like, but his arsenal is intriguing. It’s no sure thing that it could be unlocked outside the confines of Pittsburgh, but considering the Pirates’ lacklustre reputation for developing pitching lately — and the modest price tag that would be attached to Kuhl — he’s the sort of guy who it could pay to pry loose.



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Watch Wolves vs. Fulham: How to live stream, TV channel, start time for Saturday’s Premier League game

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The Premier League returns to action on Saturday.

Who’s Playing

  • Fulham @ Wolverhampton
  • Current Records: Fulham 0-0-1; Wolverhampton 0-1
  • Last Season Records: Wolverhampton 15-17-6; Fulham 0-0

Want more soccer? Paramount+ is the only place to watch every minute of every Serie A match this season, not to mention select games in Italian. Sign up now with offer code ITALY to get a special one month free trial. A subscription also gives you access to other sports content including every UEFA Champions League and Europa League match, the NFL on CBS, and countless movies and shows. Get it all free for one month with promo code ITALY.

What to Know

Wolverhampton is 3-0-1 against Fulham since December of 2018, and they’ll have a chance to extend that success on Saturday. They are meeting up for their first leg of the season at 10 a.m. ET at Molineux Stadium.

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It was all tied up 1-1 at halftime, but Wolves were not quite Leeds United’s equal in the second half when they met on Saturday. Wolverhampton fell a goal short of Leeds United, losing 2-1. That was Wolverhampton’s second consecutive one-goal defeat against Leeds United.

Speaking of close games: Fulham and Liverpool ended up with a point apiece after a 2-2 draw.

Fulham is 0-0-1 (one point) and Wolverhampton is 0-1 (zero points), so if Wolverhampton wins they will leapfrog Fulham in the standings.

Craving even more coverage of the world’s game? Listen below and follow ¡Qué Golazo! A Daily CBS Soccer Podcast where we take you beyond the pitch and around the globe for commentary, previews, recaps and more.

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How To Watch

  • Who: Wolverhampton vs. Fulham
  • When: Saturday at 10 a.m. ET
  • Where: Molineux Stadium
  • Watch: Peacock
  • Caesars sportsbook odds: Wolves +135; Draw +230; Fulham+210

Featured Game | Wolverhampton vs. Fulham

Series History

Wolverhampton won three meetings and tied one meeting in their last four contests with Fulham.

  • Apr 09, 2021 – Wolverhampton 1 vs. Fulham 0
  • Oct 04, 2020 – Wolverhampton 1 vs. Fulham 0
  • May 04, 2019 – Wolverhampton 1 vs. Fulham 0
  • Dec 26, 2018 – Wolverhampton 1 vs. Fulham 1



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2022 St. Jude Championship leaderboard: J.J. Spaun maintains one-stroke lead heading into weekend action

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TPC Southwind is slowly drying out as fierce thunderstorms blew through the Memphis area on Tuesday. While players were able to take advantage of the soft conditions in the first round, Friday was a different story as the typically firm and fast conditions of the course began to bite back.

While the playing conditions may have changed, the man who was up to the task remained the same. Overnight leader J.J. Spaun will sleep on the lead once again, as the Texas Open winner will head into the weekend at 11 under and a one-stroke lead over Sepp Straka and Troy Merritt. Spaun backed up his scorching round of 8-under 62 to kick off the St. Jude Championship with a 3-under 67 Friday afternoon to maintain his edge over the field.

Straka was the man to climb the leaderboard in the morning hours of the second round, as he followed up an opening 6-under 64 with a second-round 66. A winner at the Honda Classic earlier this season, the former Georgia Bulldog has since struggled to find such quality and arrived in the FedEx Cup Playoffs, having missed the cut in his last six tournaments.

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Behind the three men in double-digits under par are some of the hottest players in the world. Tony Finau sits at 8 under and looks to become the first man since Dustin Johnson in 2017 to win in three straight starts. Also sitting at 8 under is the Champion Golfer of the Year Cameron Smith, who will look to avenge his 72nd-hole disappointment at TPC Southwind from a year ago.

The leader

1. J.J. Spaun (-11)

Some may believe the true lead of this tournament resides with those at 8 under, but Spaun should have some staying power on this leaderboard. Collecting his first career victory at TPC San Antonio in the spring, the Los Angeles native displayed serious resolve down the stretch and throughout his tenure on the PGA Tour.

He has gotten around TPC Southwind in a relatively stress-free fashion up to this point as well. Carding 13 birdies against just two bogeys, he has been able to limit the damage and understands when missing a fairway that par is a good score. Sitting fifth in strokes gained tee to green and fourth in strokes gained putting, it is no wonder he finds himself at the top of the leaderboard and in contention for his second trophy of the season.

Other contenders

T2. Sepp Straka, Troy Merritt (-10)

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4. Denny McCarthy (-9)

T5. Brian Harman, Tony Finau, Cameron Smith, Ryan Palmer (-8)

Technically, Finau is the defending champion, as he broke a five-year hiatus from the winner’s circle with a victory at The Northern Trust, but let’s change gears. Another player to have made headlines recently is Smith, who is rumored — to put it lightly — to be heading to the LIV Golf Series following the completion of the FedEx Cup Playoffs.

The Australian has been terrific in 2022 as he dueled Jon Rahm at the Tournament of Champions, grabbed the largest purse of the season at the Players Championship and captured the Claret Jug at St. Andrews. Smith will enter the weekend as the betting favorite as he catapulted himself to the first page of the leaderboard courtesy of an eagle on the par-5 16th. Having already collected just shy of $10 million in the regular season, he has now positioned himself to potentially triple that total with a strong postseason run. 

Scheffler, McIlroy lowlight those sent packing early

Beginning the week with more than a 1,000-point edge in the FedEx Cup, Scottie Scheffler is in danger of relinquishing the top spot in the standings. In possession of the lead for more than 20 weeks, the world No. 1 may see a different number next to his name at the BMW Championship after missing the cut at TPC Southwind.

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Last season saw Collin Morikawa enter the postseason as the top man, only for him to fall to 28th by the time the Tour Championship culminated. At the very worst, Scheffler will only drop to No. 2, and he may avoid such movement as his misstep was not the only one.

Fresh off a two-week break from golf, Rory McIlroy showed considerable rust around TPC Southwind. Signing for rounds of 70-69, the man who entered the week sixth in the FedEx Cup standings ultimately missed the cut by a single stroke and will have his work cut out for him next week if he is to enter the Tour Championship within reach of the leader.

The good news for McIlroy is world No. 1 and FedEx Cup regular-season leader Scheffler is not in a position to extend his lead. With potentially a new man atop the standings, the world No. 3 can take solace in his history at East Lake, where he has raised the FedEx Cup twice before.

In total, six players inside the top 20 of the FedEx Cup standings will not be around for the weekend, as Hideki Matsuyama (No. 11), Jordan Spieth (No. 15), Tom Hoge (No. 17) and Billy Horschel (No. 18) will head to Wilmington earlier than expected.

Biggest FedEx Cup movers from Friday

Lucas Glover

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121

60

Yes

Ryan Palmer

110

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57

Yes

Troy Merritt

64

17

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Yes

Tyler Duncan

118

75

No

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Sepp Straka

35

10

Yes

James Hahn

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108

83

No

Adam Scott

77

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53

Yes

Brian Harman

55

32

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Yes

J.J. Spaun

25

2

Yes

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Lee Hodges

99

77

No

2022 St. Jude Championship updated odds and picks

  • Cameron Smith: 23/4
  • Tony Finau: 13/2
  • J.J. Spaun: 17/2
  • Troy Merritt: 10-1
  • Denny McCarthy: 14-1
  • Justin Thomas: 14-1
  • Matt Fitzpatrick: 14-1
  • Sepp Straka: 16-1
  • Will Zalatoris: 18-1
  • Sam Burns: 20-1
  • Brian Harman: 20-1

With 26 players within five strokes of the lead, this remains anyone’s ballgame with 36 holes to be played. We saw last year with Bryson DeChambeau and Harris English that TPC Southwind can be a difficult golf course to close on, as the water hazards tend to get ever so slightly bigger when the pressure is on. Factor in the FedEx Cup Playoffs and this should be ramped up a touch. Because of this, it may be prudent to search among those names at 5 under — or maybe even 4 under. 

Jon Rahm is the obvious name, as he is one of those at 4 under and listed at 40-1. Ranking seventh in strokes gained tee to green, the Spaniard has been unable to get things rolling on the greens and has a trio of three putts to his name already. The putter has been an issue all season, but it could be worth an investment. If not Rahm, Rickie Fowler is still a name which is still intriguing at 300-1. He is a long shot for a reason, but his off-the-tee numbers have been incredible and his approach statistics are negatively skewed by two iron shots that found the water on Friday. Everything else looks good in his game, and he has shown a liking for TPC Southwind in the past.

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Trayce Thompson hits three-run home run in Dodgers' 8-3 victory over Royals

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Trayce Thompson hit a three-run home run in the Los Angeles Dodgers’ 8-3 victory over the Kansas City Royals.



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