Many Royals fans heard of Angel Zerpa for the first time when he was added to the 40-man roster to protect him from the Rule 5 draft a few months ago. Alec Lewis at The Athletic has more on Zerpa:
The following year, when Zerpa was assigned to short-season Burlington in 2019, Martinez saw for himself. There was something about Zerpa’s demeanor, a fierceness to it, an “I want to make people know me” vibe, Martinez said. Not to mention, Zerpa’s velocity had crept up from the upper-80s at signing to the mid-90s. And the fastball was flying past hitters on both sides of the plate.
“Young pitchers are always tentative to throw inside,” Martinez said. “But for him, it was another location. He just did it. No problem.”
Zerpa had a curveball alongside his fastball and change-up, but it was loopy, and the Royals felt he’d be more effective with a slider. Not wanting to mess with the non-breaking-ball pitches, the Royals taught him a hybrid pitch, a slurve-y type that had some loop but also landed hard. His performance improved.
Craig Brown at Into the Fountains profiles Josh Staumont, because we all miss heat right now. (Spectacular photo atop the post, if I do say so myself.)
The four-seamer was faster than what he offered in 2019, on average, by about two mph and was much more successful. In an interview with Fangraphs’ David Laurila last week, Staumont attributed his four-seam success to not cutting the ball as much and making one other crucial adjustment.
“We’ve also kind of changed my release point, moving away from my ear a tiny bit. That’s allowed the ball to kind of do its own thing and really take that life forward.”
I love it when a pitcher makes a statement like this because it’s so easy to check the data. Wouldn’t you know it…Staumont did alter his release point, moving it closer to his body. And definitely coming at hitters from there on a much more consistent basis than he did in 2019.
David Lesky takes a look at the projected 2021 Royals offense, over at Inside the Crown.
.229/.272/.384, 15 HR, 38 SB, 31% K
Like Dozier, while there’s not a specific backup here, Mondesi’s is Lopez. Alberto can play shortstop in a pinch, but he hasn’t done it since 2018. This is a big year for Mondesi. If he plays at even relatively close to the way he finished 2020, he’s the best player on this team by far. If he plays at even relatively close to the way he started 2020, he’s going to be feeling the heat from Bobby Witt, Jr. and maybe even Lucius Fox down in the minors.
The Royals and Omaha have one of the longest affiliations in baseball, with just two minor league teams besting the 1969 start date of the I-29 partnership.
The Tigers are contemplating a 6-man rotation.
Cubs president Jed Hoyer denies rumors that he’s talking to the Mets about trading Kris Bryant.
The Phillies signed 38-year-old catcher Jeff Mathis to a minors deal.
Bartolo Colon has signed in the Mexican Baseball League.
At FanGraphs, David Laurila talks to Orioles top pitching prospect Grayson Rodriguez about his changeup-that-looks-like-a-screwball.
[Content note: suicide attempt] Also at FanGraphs, RJ McDaniel weaves together baseball’s redemptive qualities with their own darkest moments, along with the inadequacy of MLB’s PR-friendly approach to mental health.
The Braves defeated Dansby Swanson in arbitration, landing on a $6 million salary instead of the $6.7 Swanson sought.
Former Oakland A’s player Herb Washington’s post-baseball career has been as a successful McDonald’s franchisee. Washington is now suing McDonald’s, alleging they’ve pressured him to sell off locations to white franchisees.
In the NBA, Celtics star Jayson Tatum said he still struggles with breathing and stamina after a mild case of COVID-19 in January.
Adam Sandler brings back the Happy Gilmore-style shot:
Happy loves you all! Thanks for everything! pic.twitter.com/p1aY9JcFWh— Adam Sandler (@AdamSandler) February 16, 2021
The problem with Claudia Conway’s American Idol audition.
As a non-parent, I don’t know what to make of this advice about what to do when kids ramble about their video games. What do y’all think?
Use cheap lab goggles instead of specialty “onion goggles” to chop onions without the crying. Fun fact: I used to think the phenomenon of onions making people cry was either overblown, or simply something I was genetically lucky enough to not suffer. Turns out, I had just been wearing contact lenses every time I had ever chopped an onion in my life, until one time I wasn’t. Boy, was I in for a rude surprise!
How many serial killers are free to keep killing thanks to a nationwide backlog of unsolved homicides?
Here’s a fun Internet tool to recreate the ambiance of bars that you may be missing In These Times. It’s called “I Miss My Bar,” and you can mix together sounds of a playlist, along with crowd noise, bartender sounds, and more.
MARS!!!!! Don’t forget that tomorrow is the landing of the Mars rover Perseverance, at 1:15 central time.
Well-being check-in: If you’re reading this from somewhere that’s been hard-hit by bad weather and power outages, please check in here and let us know if you’re OK - or if you’re not, and maybe there’s some way this community can help. Even if you normally lurk and don’t comment much, your safety matters so please feel free to share.
SOTD: something cheery, because some number of us surely need it.