Link-O-Rama: Jepsen going through 'a dead arm period'

Leave a comment

* Kevin Jepsen has emerged as the go-to guy in the Angels’ bullpen, but the rookie has been unavailable all week because of “a dead arm period.” As the right-hander with a 1.87 ERA since the All-Star break put it: “My shoulder is tired. I really don’t know how to explain it, but just throwing the ball you can tell it’s just … the ball feels a little heavier.”
* Pedro Martinez threw off flat ground yesterday and reportedly sounded “optimistic” about making his scheduled start Saturday against the Brewers. Martinez exited his last start after three innings with a sore neck and hasn’t thrown off a mound since.
* I’ve written a couple articles recently about why it makes little sense to get worked up about hitter strikeouts, and here’s a perfect example: John Romano of the St. Petersburg Times notes in today’s column that “Tampa Bay is on pace to score a franchise record 803 runs” and then in the very next sentence declares that “the Rays strike out too much.” So they’ve scored more runs than any team in franchise history, but we should be worried about what type of outs they made?
* Braves prospect Todd Richmond tossed eight shutout innings yesterday as the United States defeated Puerto Rico to earn a spot in the World Cup championship game, where they’ll face Cuba.

No one pounds the zone anymore

Getty Images
4 Comments

“Work fast and throw strikes” has long been the top conventional wisdom for those preaching pitching success. The “work fast” part of that has increasingly gone by the wayside, however, as pitchers take more and more time to throw pitches in an effort to max out their effort and, thus, their velocity with each pitch.

Now, as Ben Lindbergh of The Ringer reports, the “throw strikes” part of it is going out of style too:

Pitchers are throwing fewer pitches inside the strike zone than ever previously recorded . . . A decade ago, more than half of all pitches ended up in the strike zone. Today, that rate has fallen below 47 percent.

There are a couple of reasons for this. Most notable among them, Lindbergh says, being pitchers’ increasing reliance on curves, sliders and splitters as primary pitches, with said pitches not being in the zone by design. Lindbergh doesn’t mention it, but I’d guess that an increased emphasis on catchers’ framing plays a role too, with teams increasingly selecting for catchers who can turn balls that are actually out of the zone into strikes. If you have one of those beasts, why bother throwing something directly over the plate?

There is an unintended downside to all of this: a lack of action. As Lindbergh notes — and as you’ve not doubt noticed while watching games — there are more walks and strikeouts, there is more weak contact from guys chasing bad pitches and, as a result, games and at bats are going longer.

As always, such insights are interesting. As is so often the case these days, however, such insights serve as an unpleasant reminder of why the on-field product is so unsatisfying in so many ways in recent years.