Must-click link: Jonah Keri on the Rangers and pitching injuries

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Jonah Keri has a long, fascinating piece up today about the Texas Rangers and their approach to pitching and pitcher injury prevention. It’s not some analysis piece from afar: it’s based on his original
reporting and research conducted over the past year, and it’s a
must-read.

The short version: the Rangers have largely rejected the current dogma about babying pitchers and limiting their workload. Not that they’ve gone back to the 60s, mind you. Rather, they’ve started from scratch, thinking about what it really takes to pitch in the Texas heat and focus on the kinds of training and drills that make success in that environment — and in the modern offensive environment — more likely. Sprints instead of distance running. Throwing batting practice between starts. Figuring out each pitcher’s fatigue point rather than mindlessly deciding that everyone wears out at 100 pitches.

It’s probably too early to tell how successful these methods will ultimately be. My personal sense is that some pitchers will break no matter how much you baby them and others will last no matter how hard you work them because that’s just the way genes roll.  But as Keri notes, the Rangers aren’t content to treat pitcher usage like it was religion or something (“and thou shalt only throw 100 pitchers lest ye be damned”). They’re using reason and observation and are trying new things.

Clear some time this afternoon and give Jonah’s piece a read.

Sean Manaea pitches first no-hitter of 2018

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Athletics southpaw Sean Manaea delivered his first career no-hitter against the Red Sox in a decisive 3-0 victory on Saturday night. Any thought of a perfect game was banished in the first at-bat, when Mookie Betts drew a leadoff six-pitch walk to open the first inning. From there, Manaea was nearly flawless, holding the Sox to four total baserunners and striking out 10 of 30 batters faced — a career record.

Manaea was gifted a three-run lead thanks to RBI doubles from Jed Lowrie and Stephen Piscotty and Marcus Semien‘s solo shot off of Chris Sale in the fifth inning. While the Red Sox managed to draw two walks off of Manaea, they didn’t come anywhere close to plating a run. Andrew Benintendi tried to break up the no-no in the sixth inning with an infield hit down the first base line, but strayed out of bounds and later saw his hit reversed on a call of batter interference.

Entering the ninth inning, the 26-year-old lefty was sitting at just 95 pitches through eight frames of no-hit ball. He quickly deposed Blake Swihart and Mookie Betts with a groundout and fly out, then walked Benintendi on seven pitches. Any threat the Red Sox might have posed was soon eliminated, however, as Hanley Ramirez ground into a force out to complete the no-hitter.

Manaea is the first A’s pitcher to toss a no-no since Dallas Braden’s perfect game against the Rays eight years ago. The last time the Red Sox were on the losing end of a no-hitter was also against an AL West rival, when the Mariners’ Chris Bosio clinched a 2-0 no-no on April 22, 1993. Manaea’s feat is even more outstanding given how dominant the Red Sox have looked this season: prior to Saturday’s defeat, they boasted a 17-2 record and had yet to be shut out during the regular season.