Pitcher Andrew Suarez
The 2019 season was a mostly forgettable experience for Andrew Suarez after a promising rookie campaign in 2018. Across 32.2 frames, Suarez generated a 5.79 ERA as he split time between the rotation and the bullpen.
As a result, the 27-year-old needed to open some eyes in Spring Training.
During the original Spring Training, the lefty was flashing some intriguing swing-and-miss stuff. Across 9.1 Cactus League frames, he recorded ten punchouts. It looked like he had an outside shot of making the club.
This time around, it sounds like Suarez is leaving too many mistakes in the middle of the plate. Recently, loud home runs off the bats of Joey Bart, and Hunter Pence came at the expense of Suarez.
Given that teams can begin the season with 30 players on the roster coupled with the fact that Suarez throws from the left side, I would say he still might have a shot at making the club.
Pitcher Dereck Rodriguez
Dereck Rodriguez is in the same boat as Suarez in that both had a promising rookie season in 2018 followed by a much more difficult 2019 season.
I would guess that Rodriguez is on the 40-man roster bubble at the moment. None of his pitches rates is above-average, and he has to rely on pinpoint command to be able to generate outs.
When that command is off, he is vulnerable to leaving pitches out in the middle of the plate.
In his most recent start, Rodriguez gave up a lot of loud contact while struggling to get through the appearance:
Everything in Spring Training 2.0 is in super small sample territory, so every appearance is analyzed thoroughly. This does not bode well for the right-handed hurler. I like his competitiveness on the mound, but it may not be a surprise if he is moved off of the 40-man roster in the coming days.
Pitcher Jeff Samardzija
Unlike Suarez and Rodriguez, Samardzija has already made the team. The veteran arm is in the final season of the five-year, $90 million contract he signed back in 2016.
I feel like I am a broken record saying this, but I do not put much weight into Spring Training performances, especially for veterans. I may look more closely at players who are trying to make the club, but if a veteran struggles during the preseason, I do not normally bat an eye.
With that being said, the 35-year-old did not flash a fastball north of 90 MPH in his most recent appearance. He no longer possesses the power fastball he had earlier in his career and seemed to adjust well to redefining himself as a pitcher last season.
In 2019, Samardzija pitched to the tune of a 3.52 ERA across 181.1 innings while making all 32 starts. He was the workhorse of the rotation.
While he excelled at preventing runs last season, it came with a concerning 4.59 FIP. The FIP gods get the best of every pitcher sooner or later, and 2020 does seem like a potential regression season for the veteran hurler.
Though, the fastball velocity he was flashing recently could just be part of his plan as he ramps up baseball activities. It is hard to tell, but he is one name to watch as the season gets underway.