My day job involves covering college football, and during a game I was covering today the Angels pulled that wacky comeback over the Rangers. Of course, I could only follow via my Twitter. It kind of felt like every Sunday, when I'm usually watching some day game and everybody's tweeting about the NFL. I've got to get paid, though!
The Warthen Slider has helped two Mets playoff starters become dominant. Now, the other two LDS starters have worked on featuring the pitch.
Starting rotation depth has been the foundation upon which the Mets have built their first NL East title in nine years. Between the budding young stars headlining the front of the rotation and the veterans Bartolo Colon and Jonathan Niese helping fill out the back of it, Sandy Alderson & Co. built a staff so deep that even Zack Wheeler’s torn UCL barely set them back this past spring.
In a time when pitch counts and innings limits are a hot topic, Joe Maddon fears not and goes with the unknown.
Jake Arrieta had just tossed 123 pitches as he stood on the mound celebrating his 20th victory of the season with his teammates. It was a moment he won't soon forget, and his manager Joe Maddon was the one who allowed him to experience it. There are those who believe there was no good reason for Arrieta to still be out there when that game ended, however Maddon felt otherwise. Was he justified? At BP Wrigleyville, Sahadev Sharma takes an in-depth look at pitch counts, experiencing the moment, and understanding the need to treat each player on a case-by-case basis.
The last playoff battle is a good one, and got tighter still on Thursday.
The Thursday Takeaway
The 2015 season has been filled with unpredictability. The Nationals collapsed. The Mets clinched the NL East with a week and a half to go in the season. The Blue Jays became a super team. The Royals defied the projections and have had the AL Central in the bag for a couple of months. The Twins are still playing meaningful games!
White Sox prospect Eddy Alvarez is a rare breed of two-sport athlete.
Eddy Alvarez’s career plans may seem chaotic, but it’s all part of a grand design that he continues to draw with precision.
In an era of specialization that sees children focus on one sport, sometimes as soon as they first pick it up, multi-sport athletes who carry that torch into their 20s are becoming increasingly rare. Alvarez takes it to even greater heights by through a pairing of two sports that seems almost unimaginable.
These arms grabbed Wilson's attention with their two-strike whiffing prowess.
One of the cooler perks about working here at Baseball Prospectus is that I get to spend time slogging through the literally thousands of pages of data we have in pursuit of interesting angles to write about players in different ways. Some of my favorite corners of the site to kick around are the PITCHf/x leaderboards, which, if you’re unfamiliar, make for highly recommended viewing. Anyway, I’ve recently found myself gravitating toward Put Away % as a tasty little nugget for evaluating how good pitchers are at finishing off batters. It’s a straightforward metric measuring a pitcher’s whiff rate once he gets two strikes on a batter, and while there is naturally a good amount of overlap there with the noted strikeout artists in the game—Clayton Kershaw sets the pace, after all—you can also find some intriguing names popping up in the top 20.
There is of course no set formula for producing well in this situation, but as a general matter of course, the metric works as something of a catchall for pitchers with solid secondary arsenals. So let’s take a little stroll through the weeds and talk about a few less-heralded guys who’ve piqued interest with their demonstrated ability to finish off batters this year. I’m using a 500-pitch minimum to give at least some semblance of size to our sample, though there will admittedly be significant noise with a couple of these guys.
J.A. Happ has been great since being traded from the Mariners to the Pirates at the end of July. By now, there’s no way that’s news. The Pirates are one of the biggest stories in baseball, and Happ’s stabilizing effect on the back end of their rotation has been a big part of their sustained success down the stretch. He’s fanned 27 percent of opponents and walked fewer than four percent since arriving in Pittsburgh, and he’s posted a 2.04 ERA in 10 starts. Thanks to his new pitching coach's excellent track record and the pretty picture Happ’s breakout helps to paint, Ray Searage is coming in for some love again. He’s been credited with taking a fringe starting pitcher and making a co-ace out of him. Searage is genuinely great, so good for him. By all accounts, he’s earned this praise, if only by reviving the careers of A.J. Burnett, Francisco Liriano, and Edinson Volquez within the last few years. When it comes to Happ, though, Searage might be getting a little too heaping a helping of the congratulatory cake.
Last season was the third in a row in which Happ was worth roughly half a win in a significant (though not enormous) number of innings.
DFS Baseball stands on a perilous edge - where will it go from here?
Here we are on the precipice at the end of baseball's regular season. More than half the league will head home to their respective families and golf courses around the globe, while the others continue the march toward a World Series trophy. For the DFS gamer the season ends on Sunday, and while some grinders will turn their attention fully onto other sports such as football, basketball, and hockey, for the baseball-specific gamer – such as yours truly – there is precious little time remaining to enjoy the game of DFS baseball.
How close did the publicly available scouting reports come to pegging Tim Hudson and Barry Zito's future careers?
On Saturday afternoon, Tim Hudson and Barry Zito faced off for the first and last time in the O.co Coliseum, thereby providing fans, players, writers, and everyone else the opportunity to reflect on the duo's glory days with the A's. By now, you've read enough retrospectives to know all about how Hudson, Zito, and Mark Mulder shaped the A's during their time together. So rather than repeat the same facts and stories, let's contemplate the past and commemorate their careers in a different way: by using the Diamond Mines database to go back in time, beyond the Moneyball era, and see what scouts said about the pair when they were still amateurs.
First the obligatory disclaimers: 1) scouting is hard and 2) looking at history backward is dangerous. Inaccuracy is a given whenever the task involves guessing how another human being will mature over the next N years, be it physically, emotionally, or both. People progress at different paces and respond to different stimuli; what looked to be the case then probably was, but, to state the obvious, each pitcher's outlook soon improved. The intent in highlighting these reports is not to mock or shame the scouts who authored them; rather, it is to illustrate the difficulty and unpredictability of their task, and to showcase how, even when they "missed," they still got plenty right.