I’ve been waiting to write this article. Not because I didn’t want to, but because I really wanted to make sure that baseball was really happening this year. Now here we are on Opening Day 2021, and fans everywhere are hoping it’s not just some April Fool’s trickery.
This season, four Pro Frogs will be taking the field for their respective teams: Jake Arrieta (Cubs), Matt Carpenter (Cardinals), Stephen Crichton (Diamondbacks) and Alex Young (Diamondbacks). Let’s take a look at how Spring Training has gone this year.
Jake Arrieta (P/Cubs)
We start off by giving thanks to the baseball gods that Jake is back where he belongs: in Chicago. I never did care for Phillies Jake, but trades are the name of the game. I’m so glad he’s back in that Cubs uniform! He made his first start of the season against the Diamondbacks on March 7, and despite giving up a hit and walking one in 2 innings pitched. He kept the Diamondbacks scoreless and then turned things over to the rest of the bullpen. And while the Cubs went on to lose the game 5-4, it was a strong outing for the prodigal Cub.
On March 18, Arrieta pitched against the Indians. In 4 innings, he allowed 1 run on 4 hits, while striking out 5, helping the Cubs get a 4-3 win.
This past Sunday, March 28, Arrieta pitched against the Rangers. He went 2.2 innings and allowed 4 runs on 5 hits, while walking 1 and striking out 4. The Cubs lost with a final score of 12-8.
Matt Carpenter (PH/Cardinals)
Oh boy, baseball season is here and that means one thing in particular: Cardinals fans whining about Carpenter. Yes, Carpenter has struggled the past couple of seasons, but Cardinals fans tend to throw tantrums anytime a player has so much as a bad at-bat.
Carpenter will be playing the role of pinch hitter this year. He’s played a unique role for the Cardinals in previous seasons, as a left-handed power hitter who has always been good at hitting against the shift. He struggled with injury and illness back in 2019, but had recovered some of his consistency by the end of the season, finishing with a decent record.
Last season, Carpenter struggled to maintain a batting average over .200, finishing with a .186, just 4 home runs, and 24 RBI for the season. 2021 may be Carpenter’s last chance to show that he plays a unique role on this team. In Spring Training, Carpenter has gone 1-for-34. He’s walked a few times, and I feel like pitchers still know that you can’t just throw anything at him, or he might just surprise you and knock one out of the park (or at least make you run to the far reaches of the outfield). In order to see more play time this year, he’s got to find his niche hitting against the shift, and he’s got to do it consistently.
Stefan Crichton (RP/Diamondbacks)
The Diamondbacks have put together a decent team the past couple of seasons, but they’re still trying to put all the perfect pieces together at the same time to be truly successful. Crichton has been in the running to be their closer during Spring Training, and he’s done pretty well. His last two games were a little ugly, with a total of 4 hits, 9 runs (8 earned), and 3 walks allowed over less than 2 innings pitched. But the two outings prior to that, he kept opponents scoreless.
Crichton has an opportunity this season to make a strong case for himself and show that he can play a significant role in the Diamondbacks quest for postseason play. Time will tell as to whether or not he’ll stand out this season or be overlooked in an often thankless position.
Alex Young (P/Diamondbacks)
Young had a couple of pitching opportunities during Spring Training, but there are some strong concerns that he may be tipping his pitches. For those that aren’t familiar with the phrase, tipping his pitches means that he has a “tell” as to what pitch is coming. This is obviously a very bad thing for pitchers. Young isn’t expected to start this season on the roster, but there may be opportunities for him as the season goes on, depending on injuries and what they figure out once they analyze his pitching a little deeper. We’re hoping to see him get a chance to help the Diamondbacks have a successful season.