Ben Heller RP NYY 6 minutes ago
Heller could return from the minors if MLB decides to expand rosters at the start of the regular season, Brendan Kuty of NJ Advance Media reports.
Heller was optioned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Thursday. However, he may not open the season there if Major League Baseball opts to increase roster sizes to account for a shortened spring training. The decision would be made primarily to protect pitchers, so Heller would make sense as a callup since he was on the cusp of making the big-league roster before being sent down.
Jonathan Loaisiga P NYY 11 minutes ago
Loaisiga's spot in the starting rotation is in jeopardy due to the delayed start of the regular season, Brendan Kuty of NJ Advance Media reports.
Loaisiga was a near-lock for the fifth-starter role before play was put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With Opening Day pushed back indefinitely, James Paxton (back) may have enough time to return to health before the regular season commences. That would likely push Loaisiga out of the rotation, though Kuty speculates that the right-hander could end up in the bullpen, especially if MLB decides to expand rosters at the start of the campaigh.
Thairo Estrada 2B NYY 20 minutes ago
Estrada could be called back up to Yankees if MLB decides to expand rosters early in the season, Brendan Kuty of NJ Advance Media reports.
The Yankees optioned Estrada to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Thursday after he slashed a meager .200/.226/.233 in Grapefruit League action. While Tyler Wade appears to be the team's primary choice for a utility role, Estrada could be brought up as a second utility player and pinch-running option should the league expand rosters when the season commences as is widely expected.
Clint Frazier LF/RF/DH NYY 26 minutes ago
Frazier's chances of making the Opening Day roster would improve if MLB decides to expand rosters early in the season, Brendan Kuty of NJ Advance Media reports.
Frazier looked to be in line for a starting spot in right field prior to the suspension of play. However, the delay to the start of the regular season gives both Giancarlo Stanton (calf) and Aaron Judge (rib) time to heal, likely knocking Frazier out of an everyday role -- and possibly off the big-league roster altogether. That script could flip back, however, if MLB expands rosters as the Yankees would then have more room to keep Frazier on the club as a reserve outfielder.
Daniel Ponce de Leon SP STL 47 minutes ago
Ponce de Leon, who posted an 0.69 ERA across four Grapefruit League games before spring training was suspended, has already proven worthy of an Opening Day roster spot, Anne Rogers of MLB.com reports.
Ponce de Leon entered camp with a strong chance at sticking past final cuts, considering he's already proven capable of thriving at the big-league level by posting a 3.31 ERA and recording 83 strikeouts across 81.2 innings over his first pair of stints with the Cardinals. Solid as those numbers are, Ponce de Leon was that much more impressive this spring across his 13 innings, and the fact he's proven capable of transitioning seamlessly from reliever to spot starter when needed makes him a particularly valuable asset for manager Mike Shildt.
Mike Ford 1B/DH NYY 48 minutes ago
Ford would be a candidate to make the big-league squad if MLB decides to expand rosters when play resumes, Brendan Kuty of NJ Advance Media reports.
Ford's place on the Opening Day roster had been in question throughout the spring, and his spot seemed to grow more tenuous with the possible return to health of Giancarlo Stanton (calf) and Aaron Judge (rib) due to the delayed start of the campaign. However, talk of MLB expanding roster sizes to account for a shortened spring training has Ford solidly back in the mix. Per Kuty, the Yankees value Ford's experience and left-handed bat off the bench despite not necessarily needing a backup first baseman.
Andrew Kittredge P TB 1 hour ago
Kittredge, who generated a 4.50 ERA across five Grapefruit League appearances before spring training was suspended, is likely to garner an Opening Day roster spot due to his versatility, Juan Toribio of MLB.com reports.
Kittredge was a true jack-of-all-trades asset for manager Kevin Cash last season, logging 37 appearances overall, including seven starts. The right-hander generated a respectable 4.17 ERA and impressive 58:12 K:BB across 49.2 innings, and the 30-year-old was being stretched out some this spring with an eye on having him work in a number of 2020 roles, including spot starter. Kittredge's chances were also likely helped by the recent optioning of Trevor Richards, a pitcher with a similar profile, to Triple-A Durham.
Luis Castillo SP CIN 5 hours ago
Castillo spent a portion of spring training working on improving his slider, C. Trent Rosecrans of The Athletic reports. Pitching coach Derek Johnson spoke of that work developing the slider: "There were some (strikeouts) on his slider, which I think has gotten better. I don't have the numbers in front of me on what he struck out guys with. Of course, the changeup is a weapon. I also think in time guys are going to start looking for his changeup more."
Last year, Castillo used his slider the least often of his four pitches, throwing it 17 percent of the time. It generated a lot of whiffs (47.5%) and a low batting average against (.190), but opposing hitters did some damage when they made contact, slugging .452 against it. The changeup will likely always be Castillo's best pitch, but he would benefit from a second reliable offspeed offering.
SUSMichael Pineda SP MIN 10 hours ago
If the 2020 season is less than 162 games due to the delay necessitated by the COVID-19 epidemic, the recent agreement between MLB and the MLB Players Association on a reduced season is believed to mean that Pineda will still need to serve the remaining 39 games of his drug suspension, Skor North 1500 KSTP-AM Minneapolis reports.
Pineda's fantasy value would decline as a result as he would have missed only 39 of 162 games and returned in mid-May under a full-season schedule. With a shortened season, however, he could now miss from one-third to one-half of the campaign. Pineda was suspended 80 games in early September for taking a banned diuretic. The suspension was later reduced to 60 games after he argued it was not being used as a masking agent for a performance-enhancing drug, and he served the first 21 games of the penalty last season.
Andrew Knizner C STL 10 hours ago
The Cardinals optioned Knizner to Triple-A Memphis on Thursday.
Knizner is viewed within the organization as the eventual successor to Yadier Molina, but the 25-year-old will head back to the farm to begin the campaign while the veteran enters the final year of his contract. With Knizner out of the running for an Opening Day job, Matt Wieters has made the club as the Cardinals' backup catcher.