I’ve been checking in and out of the blog of Braves reliever Peter Moylan all winter. Being a Braves fan I was happy to learn back in November that Moylan — not exactly a man with abs of steel — was on a bigtime conditioning program. Given that Bobby Cox worked Moylan to death these past few years — throwing him in 80+ games immediately after he came back from Tommy John surgery — conditioning is probably pretty important for him as he gets older.
Imagine my shock and horror, however, when I saw this tweet from him this afternoon, back in Georgia after flying in from Australia a couple of days ago:
Jet lag is kicking my butt. Woke up at 3am yesterday and 5am today. Thank god for Waffle House
Ahhh! You can’t do that Peter! We shlubs can get that scattered-smothered-chunked-and-diced goodness when we need it, but you’re a professional athlete! We need you to get those tough outs against the Phillies! That is, if they ever get a righty who can hit worth a damn!
I tweeted my alarm, and thankfully, within minutes, Moylan set my mind at ease:
@craigcalcaterra egg whites and dry wheat toast!!!!!!!!!
When does spring training start?
“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.