How a team without prospects is making the most of its 40-man roster.
It's been said before that desperation is sometimes as powerful an inspirer as genius. Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto can relate to the notion. On Monday, Dipoto added a majors-leading 37th player to his roster, purchasing reliever Jairo Diaz's contract from the minors. The body count will increase by one in the coming days, when left-handed reliever Joe Thatcher returns from the disabled list. Even the two Angels players on the 40-man roster who aren't with the big-league club—pitchers Jose Alvarez and Drew Rucinski—have experienced life in The Show this season. As such, it's fair to conclude that Dipoto has utilized his 40-man roster to an extent and effect that differs from any other GM.
The revised interpretation of Rule 7.13 gets tested immediately by the Yankees and Rays. The rest of yesterday's action is recapped and the best of today is previewed.
Sometime yesterday, Joe Torresent a memo to all 30 teams to clear up the mounting confusion over Rule 7.13, otherwise known as the ban on catchers blocking the plate and on runners bowling them over. A key point of the letter was to eliminate, or at least mitigate, the possibility that runners who looked dead to rights coming down the line could be deemed safe on a technicality. The wording of Rule 7.13 wasn’t changed, but no longer would the replay crew in New York side with a manager who argued that his runner, a good distance away from the plate when the ball arrived, had his path to the dish impeded by the catcher.
The change in interpretation was made effective immediately. Its consequences were evident just a few hours later.
The bigger strike zone has caused more than just increased strikeouts.
Recent analysis from Jon Roegele and Brian Mills (among others) has shown that the strike zone is changing. Specifically, the lower edge of the zone has dropped several inches in the last few years, opening up a new area for pitchers to attack. Responding to the deeper zone, pitchers have peppered this region with strikes and sinkers.
If pitchers are telling us which hitters are especially scary, does that make Pittsburgh's no. 6 hitter one of next year's top breakout candidates?
For a pitcher, the center of the strike zone presents a high-risk, high-reward proposition. There is the opportunity to steal a strike against an overly patient hitter, but also the possibility of the ball being walloped for extra bases. From a game theory prospective, pitchers must balance the need to acquire additional strikes versus the added risk which comes from throwing those strikes.
Yet, the inherent risk of a strike varies depending on who is standing in the batter’s box. Jose Bautista can hit a pitch middle-middle a long way, maybe out of the park. Ben Revere is less of a threat to achieve the same outcome. For this reason, pitchers can be more aggressive in pitching to the center of the zone against Ben Revere than Jose Bautista.
Right in your neighborhood, there is a team operating on the periphery of professional baseball.
In early August, an independent league team called the San Rafael Pacifics played a team from nearby Pittsburg, California, called the Mettle. The last-place Mettle are owned and coached by former big leaguer Wayne Franklin, who (at age 40) is also the team’s ace starter, sort of—he leads the league in innings pitched, by far, yet has the second worst ERA. (He rarely takes himself out. In his last start, he allowed 11 runs in a complete game.) In left field for the Pacifics was Eric Byrnes, the Eric Byrnes, out of retirement for two games to raise money for charity. Byrnes’ bat was slow and he had become a two-true-outcomes hitter, walks and strikeouts, but he sprinted all over the outfield, wandering far into F-8 territory because every ball he caught sent $500 to a veterans group. It all sounds like a lark, but anchoring the whole thing to reality was an honest pennant race.
The Brewers are in trouble, the Buehrle-Odorizzi matchup was as glamorous as advertised, Koji Uehara can't get it together, and more of yesterday's action. Plus what to watch this weekend.
When an eight-game losing streak sends you tumbling from first place in your division to the brink of the playoff picture, it’s easy to begin feeling helpless. When you hold a lead at the end of only one of your last 56 innings on the diamond, desperation surely starts to set in.
The Brewers, with Carlos Gomez nursing a wrist injury and Ryan Braun away for the birth of his daughter, could not have chosen a less opportune time for their collapse. They welcomed the Cardinals, the team they led less than a week ago but at which they’re now looking up, to Miller Park on Thursday for the opener of a four-game showdown. And their tailspin continued almost immediately.