Pair of Angels on track for rare accomplishment

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There’s still a ways yet to go, but both Brandon Wood and Jeff Mathis have opportunities to become the first players since 2003 to finish a season with 200 plate appearances and a strikeout-to-walk ratio of at least 12:1.
Let’s look at the carnage:
Wood – .163/.180/.219, 3 HR, 12 RBI, 54/4 K/BB in 189 plate appearances
Mathis – .195/.214/.294, 3 HR, 12 RBI, 50/4 K/BB in 161 plate appearances
Only eight different players have accomplished such a feat during the expansion era. One did in twice:
Andy Kosco (1970, Dodgers) – 40/1 K/BB in 228 PA
Ivan Murrell (1973, Padres) – 52/2 K/BB in 216 PA
Rob Picciolo (1979, Athletics) – 45/3 K/BB in 363 PA
Rob Picciolo (1980, Athletics) – 63/2 K/BB in 281 PA
Tom Paciorek (1986, Rangers) – 41/3 K/BB in 220 PA
Kim Batiste (1994, Phillies) – 32/1 K/BB in 214 PA
Mariano Duncan (1995, PHI/CIN) – 62/5 K/BB in 277 PA
Shawon Dunston (1999, STL/NYM) – 39/2 K/BB in 255 PA
Todd Greene (2003, Rangers) – 47/2 K/BB in 210 PA
Of the nine, just the two National Leaguers had decent seasons in the process. Duncan hit .287/.297/.423 while playing all over the diamond. Dunston, by then a supersub and pinch-hitter, hit .321/.337/.453 with 41 RBI in 243 AB.
Credit Picciolo with consistency. He had a 589 OPS in both seasons. He was actually far worse as a rookie, hitting .200/.218/.258 in 419 AB in 1975. He had a 55/9 K/BB ratio then. Picciolo never again received 200 plate appearances in a season after 1980.
Wood might have had a chance to join the club as a rookie in 2008 with additional playing time. He had a 43/4 K/BB ratio in 157 plate appearances that season.
Mathis, though, has never been nearly so awful before. He finished with a 90/30 K/BB ratio in 328 plate appearances in 2008 and a 73/22 K/BB ratio in 272 plate appearances last year. He’d seem to be less likely than Wood to enter the exclusive club.

Aledmys Diaz is trying to improve his defense with strobe glasses

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MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch reports that Cardinals’ shortstop Aledmys Diaz has been sporting a new look around Busch Stadium with a pair of “strobe glasses,” technology-enhanced specs designed to help athletes focus on the ball. Like a strobe light, the lenses of these glasses affect a player’s vision by rapidly changing opacity, giving its wearers the illusion that the objects they see are moving more slowly than normal. Once a player adjusts to the new speed of play, they gain a greater sense of control and are able to time their actions with more precision.

Diaz isn’t the first MLB player to utilize the technology, just the first Cardinals’ player to do so. It’s been tested by Bryce Harper, Corey Brown, Tommy Joseph, Austin Hedges and Joe Mauer, among others around the league, and has been used for everything from refining a catcher’s reflexes behind the plate to tweaking a hitter’s ability to track a pitch. Per Langosch, Diaz has been using the glasses to hone in on the ball during pregame drills, increasing both his confidence and response time on the field and improving his defense at short.

The shortstop has been the focus of some concern this season after seeing a sizable dip in his production at the plate, and his five fielding errors, 0.6 UZR and 0.6 fWAR haven’t helped matters, either. He sustained a minor thumb injury during an at-bat on Friday night, and was left off of the Cardinals’ starting lineup on Saturday, though manager Mike Matheny didn’t rule out his ability to pinch-hit during the series. While the strobe glasses are a good start, Diaz will need more than a pair of specs to match the spotlight-worthy performance he turned out during his rookie season in 2016.

Eduardo Rodriguez could rejoin the Red Sox rotation in July

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Red Sox’ left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez may finally get a chance at cracking the rotation again, assuming all goes well in Double-A Portland first. Rodriguez took the field prior to the club’s afternoon session with the Angels, firing 68 pitches in a simulated game as he prepared for an upcoming rehab assignment in Portland on Thursday.

The 24-year-old southpaw suffered a right knee subluxation during pregame warmups on June 1, and it’s been a slow path to recovery ever since. It’s not the first time Rodriguez has had issues with his right knee — he sustained a similar injury during spring training last year — and this time around, the Red Sox weren’t about to gamble with their starter’s health. Ian Browne of MLB.com reports that Rodriguez was put in a knee brace and underwent exercises designed to help him regain some mobility and stability while he worked back up to full strength on the mound.

He’ll still need to prove he can throw a 75- to 80-pitch outing in Double-A, and barring any significant setbacks, will likely rejoin the Red Sox’ pitching staff when they visit the Rangers next month. In the meantime, the club will continue to cycle starters through the No. 5 spot, which has seen no fewer than three different pitchers since Rodriguez hit the disabled list. The lefty is 4-2 in 10 starts this season after logging a 3.54 ERA, 3.1 BB/9 and career-high 9.6 SO/9 through his first 61 innings.