Dustin After Dark: Dustin May's injury; Calhoun hitting vs. LH; Luis Castillo; Kent Emanuel; more

Updated: May 3, 2021

Greetings from a dark place. As I type this, an organ plays a somber, depressing hymn in my head as I try to come to grips with the possible loss of a loved one.

After identifying the change to his curveball and the accompanying results in 2020, I was all-in on Dustin May's 2021 breakout and drafted him almost everywhere I could. So far in 2021, he's been even better than I imagined and looked like a possible Cy Young candidate with 13.70 K/9 and a 1.57 xFIP when he left tonight's game. Identifying these types of players are how you win leagues. Well, if you also get some good luck.

Hopefully, May's injury is only minor. As you can see above, he didn't point to a specific area and the Dodgers classified the injury as a right arm injury. Maybe it was just a fluke, weird sensation. But I always cringe when guys who throw really hard encounter sudden injuries like that. Sigh. Pulling for you, Dustin. I'm assuming David Price, when he's healthy, would fill the rotation spot until Tony Gonsolin is ready.

Some more observations and things bouncing around in my head:

--- Willie Calhoun started against a lefty, again, tonight and finished 3-for-4 with a homer, double, two runs and two RBI. Through his first 49 plate appearances, he's hitting .333/.388/.489 with a 14.3 K%. His walk and strikeout rates align almost identically with 2019 and 2020 rates and he's hitting leadoff against right-handers.

And you know what? The Rangers lineup isn't bad. Heck, it's kind of interesting, especially if you believe in Adolis Garcia. I don't because of the pedestrian max exit velocity and strikeout rate. Well, not yet, at least. Still, the lineup includes Nate Lowe, Nick Solak, and Joey Gallo. It's not the pushover it was last season. Far from it.

--- Seems like both Mookie Betts and Anthony Rendon are about to go on big-time hot streaks. After a day off, Betts blasted a Brandon Woodruff fastball 406 feet for a leadoff homer and also hit a 106.3 MPH single off the Milwaukee ace. Everyone in the Angels lineup teed off on Ljay Newsome, but it was good to see Rendon hit a homer and a double, which was his highest exit velocity of the season.

--- Lance Lynn returned to the rotation and was okay across five innings. Michael Kopech came in behind him and fired 3.0 one-hit, scoreless innings with three strikeouts. On a day when the winds were so strong they nearly knocked Triston McKenzie over, Kopech continued to show the longer the White Sox go without creating a rotation spot for him the dumber they are.

Dylan Cease was maybe one more bad spot away from losing his spot, but fired 7.0 shutout innings against the Tigers earlier in the week. While Cease's fastball spin rate was up 112.0 RPM, his vertical and horizontal break didn't change. I don't buy he can sustain results against lineups with a pulse, even though his arm path changes in the offseason do make him more intriguing than he was before the season.

--- Luis Castillo's velocity and spin rates were up across the board during today's start against the Cubs, but he still wasn't dominant. He isn't missing bats either. Castillo ended 2020 with his best month and was also throwing his sinker more than any other point in 2020. Today, he threw just seven sinkers, but the pitch hasn't been this season so that might not be an answer. Maybe the answer is simply the velocity trending positively like it did tonight. Actually, here's the answer:

Castillo's slider, four-seam fastball and sinker command have been terrible. Anytime there are big red blobs middle-middle, it doesn't matter how good the stuff is because batters will hit it.

--- I'm keeping a close eye on Kent Emanuel's role in Houston. He excited the Astros during Spring Training, pitched well in the Dominican League this winter, and followed a historically awesome 8.2-inning relief appearance with a scoreless frame and two strikeouts Friday against the Rays.

Emanuel operates with a sinker-changeup combo and both pitches generate above average horizontal and vertical break; his sweeping slider has generated a few ugly chases, also because of his unique appearance to hitters, in a limited look. If he is able to grab a rotation spot, he'd be worth a flyer in deeper leagues. While Jake Odorizzi's initial prognosis from a forearm injury is positive, forearm injuries are sometimes red flags for future elbow issues.

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