Is baseball experiencing an outbreak of anxiety disorders, or is it something else?

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The Wall Street Journal takes note of all of the anxiety cases this year:

Three professional baseball players have landed on the disabled list
this season for a problem they can’t ice, bandage or have surgically
repaired: anxiety . . . Baseball’s anxious include Detroit pitcher
Dontrelle Willis, St. Louis Cardinals shortstop Khalil Greene and
Cincinnati first baseman Joey Votto, who all spent weeks on the
disabled list spring for mental-health issues. Mr. Willis, who returned
to the lineup in May, was placed on disabled status again in mid-June
for anxiety.

I’m not sure what to make of all of the anxiety problems this year, but
part of me thinks that not all of them are technically social anxiety
disorders. Rather, I suspect that they’re all lumped together as
“anxiety disorders” because Zack Greinke sort of made the term “anxiety
disorder” acceptable in baseball circles by going through and
subsequently overcoming what he went though, whereas depression or any
number of other specific neurosis remain new and scary in this
historically-conservative world. Don’t get me wrong; by all accounts,
Votto and Khalil Greene’s situations were serious, and I’m not
dismissing them. I’m just saying that, based on what they’ve revealed
about their problems, things like depression or any number of other
neurosis seem plausible too. Ultimately my point here isn’t to diagnose
anything (I’m not qualified to do that). It’s just to suggest that
maybe what’s happening is a greater willingness among baseball players
to be up front about psychological problems in general as opposed to
their being some sudden and inexplicable outbreak of social anxiety
disorder. If so, that’s a very good thing.

That said, I and others have voiced some skepticism about Willis,
mostly because (a) even after his alleged diagnosis he said he felt
great and that his only problem was that he couldn’t pitch; and (b) the
“anxiety” only seemed to come up when the Tigers needed to move Willis
off the active roster to bring in a productive player. I think there
have been a lot of disabled list shenanigans this year–amazingly,
Boston’s Dice-K got injured at just the perfect time to solve the Red
Sox’ roster logjam — and it wouldn’t surprise me if Willis’ were
another example of it.

Clayton Kershaw, Jacob deGrom create MLB first with 11 strikeouts each in the playoffs

Jacob deGrom
AP Photo/Alex Brandon
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For the first time in major league history, both pitchers in a playoff game have struck out at least 11 batters, per’s Paul Casella. Mets starter Jacob deGrom has pitched just a hair better than Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw overall. deGrom has blanked the Dodgers over six frames on five hits and a walk. Kershaw made one mistake, resulting in a solo home run to Daniel Murphy in the fourth inning. He’s allowed four hits and four walks total in 6 2/3 innings.

The last time opposing starters each struck out 10 in a post-season game was back in 1944 in Game 5 of the World Series when Mort Cooper of the St. Louis Cardinals struck out 12 and Denny Galehouse of the St. Louis Browns struck out 10.

Michael Cuddyer not shining in left field early in NLDS Game 1

Michael Cuddyer
AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek

Mets outfielder Michael Cuddyer has already made a pair of mistakes in left field and he’s only four innings into the first game of the best-of-five NLDS against the Dodgers.

Leading off the second inning, Justin Turner sent a well-struck liner to Cuddyer which was quite catchable, but the ball clanked off of the veteran’s glove. Turner was credited with a double. Mets starter Jacob deGrom was able to work around the misplay, striking out Andre Ethier, A.J. Ellis, and Clayton Kershaw to close out the frame.

With two outs in the third inning, Corey Seager sent a fly ball down the left field line. Cuddyer took an inefficient route and the ball bounced about a foot inside the foul line, then into the stands, giving Seager a ground-rule double. To add insult to injury, Cuddyer ended up tumbling over the fence. deGrom, again, worked around Cuddyer’s mistake, striking out Adrian Gonzalez to end the inning.

Because he bats right-handed, Cuddyer got the start in left field over the left-handed-hitting rookie Michael Conforto against Kershaw, a southpaw. Conforto mustered only a .481 OPS against lefties this season compared to Cuddyer’s .698. Despite the batting disparity, one wonders how short a leash manager Terry Collins has on Cuddyer given his defense.

Mets take lead during NLDS Game 1 with Daniel Murphy’s solo homer

Daniel Murphy
AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek
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Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy broke a scoreless tie in the fourth inning, belting a solo home run to right field at Dodger Stadium off of starter Clayton Kershaw. Kershaw threw a 2-0, 94 MPH fastball and Murphy didn’t miss it.

Both teams’ starters are pitching quite well overall. Kershaw has allowed the one run on three hits and a walk with six strikeouts. Jacob deGrom started off the game with six consecutive strikeouts and has struck out seven total while blanking the Dodgers on three hits and a walk in three innings.

Kershaw doesn’t have the most impressive post-season track record, owning a career 5.12 ERA across eight starts and three relief appearances spanning 51 innings. Aside from the homer, the lefty appears to be putting that notion aside.