MLB Network analyst and former Phillies closer Mitch Williams said yesterday that he believes a foot injury is behind Chase Utley’s postseason throwing problems:
I think he’s hurt. Watch the way he’s trying to throw the baseball. He can’t put his right foot in the ground. I’m not going to sit back and listen to people say he’s got the yips. That ain’t the case. To get the yips, you’ve got to be really weak-minded. Chase is a lot of things. Weak-minded ain’t one of them.
When I saw the first one, you run it back, and he steps on the bag with his right foot, and the first thing you’re going to do there is drop, plant and throw. He doesn’t. He basically sets himself up to get killed at second base.
I don’t know if it’s the hip. It’s something on his right side. I could be really wrong, but when the season’s over, there’s going to be something come out that Chase has been playing with this.
Utley has said throughout the postseason that he feels fine, but Scott Lauber of the Delaware News Journal notes that he said the same thing last year before undergoing offseason hip surgery and missed some time this September after fouling a ball off his right foot.
Whether his throwing problems are physical or mental there’s definitely something amiss, because he’s made several throwing errors while looking shaky on numerous other throws this postseason after committing a grand total of just four throwing errors in 1,357 innings during the regular season.
If we haven’t said it before, it bears repeating: When it comes to pure muscle mass and power, no major league player rivals the sheer force of Giancarlo Stanton. His record-setting 504-foot home run in 2016 has yet to be bested in the Statcast era (though it narrowly beat out Jake Arrieta‘s 503-foot blast in 2015, because baseball is weird), he broke the Dodgers’ outfield fence on an attempted catch at the wall last Sunday, and he carries 25 home runs that have each exceeded 460 feet.
It should come as little surprise, then, that when Stanton muscled his 12th home run of the season against the Angels on Friday night, it not only hit the batter’s eye, but left a visible dent in the wall:
Stanton’s mammoth shot put the Marlins on the board in the first inning, setting the stage for a four-run effort that gave the club an early lead. The home run measured a cool 462 feet, the slugger’s longest of the season. He still has a little ways to go to catch up to the 2017 season leader, Jake Lamb, whose 481-foot home run against the Rockies currently leads the pack.
The next item on Stanton’s bucket list? If we’re lucky, maybe something a little like this:
Angels’ right-handed reliever Bud Norris made his 23rd appearance of the season on Friday, and after just three pitches, he was done for the night. He worked a 2-1 count to Marlins’ Dee Gordon in the eighth inning, then promptly exited the field after experiencing some tightness in his right knee. Neither Norris nor manager Mike Scioscia believe the injury is cause for major concern, and the 32-year-old right-hander admitted that it may have had something to do with his lack of stretching before he took the mound. For now, he’s day-to-day with right knee soreness, with the hope that the issue doesn’t escalate over the next few days.
While the Angels are lucky to have avoided serious injury, they’ll need Norris to pitch at 100% if they want to stay competitive within the AL West. They currently sit a full nine games behind the league-leading Astros, and haven’t been helping their cause after taking five losses in their last eight games. Friday’s 8-5 finale marked their third consecutive loss of the week.
When healthy, Norris has been one of the better arms in the Angels’ bullpen. Through 23 2/3 innings, he’s pitched to a 2.66 ERA, 3.4 BB/9 and an outstanding 11.8 SO/9 in 23 outings. The righty hasn’t allowed a single run in four straight appearances, recording three saves and helping the club clinch four wins in that span. This is his second setback of the year after sustaining a partial fingernail tear on his pitching hand during spring training.