Stephen Strasburg's teammates let him down again in loss

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After getting stuck with a loss and a no-decision despite allowing one run in each of his previous two starts Stephen Strasburg’s teammates let him down again last night versus the Braves.
The lineup failed to score a run in seven innings, shortstop Ian Desmond committed his 19th error by booting a double play that at least would have kept the score 0-0, and Sean Burnett allowed both inherited runners to score after coming on in relief.
Don’t let the box score fool you. Strasburg was good. His teammates stunk.
He’s now just 2-2 in five starts despite a 2.27 ERA, .216 opponents’ batting average, and 48/7 K/BB ratio in 31.2 innings. And if Desmond makes that play or the Nationals don’t completely implode behind Strasburg after the botched DP his ERA would still be under 2.00.
Strasburg is every bit as amazing as even the most ridiculous hype claimed he would be, but he’s still not good enough to make up for the other 24 guys on a team that has lost nearly two-thirds of their games over the past three seasons.
Finding a way to give him proper offensive, defensive, and bullpen support yet this season is probably asking too much, but hopefully the Nationals can make some major strides this offseason so the early years of Strasburg’s career aren’t littered with losses and no-decisions in games he pitched brilliantly.
With even average support Strasburg could easily be 5-0 with a 1.42 ERA right now.

A scout thinks the Astros strike out too much. The Astros have the lowest strikeout total in baseball.

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Great moments in scouting. MLB.com’s Richard Justice spoke to an unnamed scout about the Astros, currently holding the American League’s best record at 76-47. The scout said that the Astros strike out too much and it will catch up with them. Justice pointed out that the Astros have the lowest strikeout total in baseball. The scout responded, “I don’t believe that.”

Justice, of course, is correct. The average major league team has struck out 1,006 times entering Sunday’s action. The Astros have by far the lowest total at 827, followed by the Indians at 881 and the Pirates at 882.

This scout doesn’t represent all scouts, but this is one of the major problems that advocates of statistics were trying to highlight before Sabermetrics became popular a decade ago. It’s a pattern. Person believes thing. Person either cherry-picks evidence to defend belief or is shown evidence that belief is not factually true and ignores it. Person refuses to change belief, using one of many excuses.

The other problem this highlights is the fallacy of “the eye test,” which is shorthand for treating a scout’s observations as sacrosanct due to his or her experience and knowledge of the game. In this case, the scout ignored easily accessed information, went with his gut, and turned out to be completely wrong. Furthermore, if “the eye test” were legit, the scout would’ve known that, for example, Yulieski Gurriel and Jose Altuve hardly ever strike out (11.1 and 12.4 percent strikeout rates, respectively). In fact, no one on the Astros’ roster (min. 230 PA) has a strikeout rate above 21 percent; the league average is 21.5 percent.

This isn’t to impugn the practice of scouting as a whole. There are a lot of things scouts can tell you about a player that data cannot and that has value. But for easily-researched claims like “the Astros strike out too much,” there’s no reason to trust a scout over the stats.

Mets acquire Jacob Rhame from Dodgers

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The Mets acquired right-handed reliever Jacob Rhame from the Dodgers, the team announced on Sunday. Rhame is the player to be named later in the trade that sent outfielder Curtis Granderson to Los Angeles on Friday night. He’s expected to report to the Mets’ Triple-A affiliate.

Rhame, 24, pitched through his second Triple-A campaign with the Oklahoma City Dodgers in 2017, collecting two saves in 41 appearances and logging a 4.31 ERA, 1.9 BB/9 and 10.3 SO/9 through 48 innings. While his ERA saw a sharp spike from its modest 3.29 mark in 2016 (perhaps thanks in part to a midseason DL stint due to an undisclosed injury), he’s controlling the ball better than he has in several years and has drawn some attention with a fastball that occasionally touches 98 MPH on the radar gun.

The Mets’ bullpen hasn’t been at its finest over the last few weeks, ranking 16th among its major league competitors with a collective 4.50 ERA and 2.4 fWAR, but likely isn’t looking to add an extreme fly ball pitcher to its staff just yet. Until he gets his big league break, Rhame will beef up Triple-A Vegas’ relief corps alongside fellow right-handers Yaisel Sierra, Joe Broussard and Josh Ravin.