So what do the Twins do now?

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With the news that Nathan is staring Tommy John surgery in the face, what happens to the Twins? 

Gardenhire suggested that they’d look in house.  Maybe, but of course he was standing three feet from a dejected Joe Nathan when he said that, so it’s not like it was the right setting to say “we’re going to go out and trade for Kerry Wood” or something.

But there are options in-house, which my friend The Common Man — who may or may not own a time machine considering he wrote this yesterday — breaks down. Definitely worth a click.

I’ll let people more knowledgeable about the Twins than I am [cough!] Aaron Gleeman [cough!] opine if TCM pegs it or not.  My gut reaction is to go closer-by-committee for a while and see who separates themselves from the pack.  Of course you can’t call it closer by committee because that’s dumb cyber computer baseball, and you simply can’t do that.

No one pounds the zone anymore

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“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.