Frank Viola is going to work for the Mets

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Frank Viola — the best pitcher in the history of Long Island —  was all over the lobby down at the Winter Meetings last month.  I figured it was just because he lives down in Florida and was meeting and greeting, but maybe he was there on the make for a job. He just got one:  he’s been named the pitching coach for the Brooklyn Cyclones, the Mets’ Class A team.  This is my favorite part of the story:

In addition to Viola and Backman, former Mets players Tim Teufel, Mookie Wilson, Howard Johnson, Randy Niemann, Keith Hernandez and Ron Darling all have jobs in the organization or with the team-owned SNY cable network.

I know Viola wasn’t with the team then, but that factoid made me go back and check out the 1986 Mets’ Baseball-Reference page.  One of my favorite time wasters is to figure out who the most obscure and/or most unexpected player to actually pitch an inning or make a plate appearance for a famous team.  Call them the Eddie Matthews All-Stars if you will.  It can be a Hall of Famer who made an otherwise unmemorable cameo with a World Series team like Matthews did with the 1968 Tigers. It can be some random former prospect for a team you root for who somehow stumbled forward several years to pinch hit five times for a winner after you figured he was selling cars for a living.

I think my vote for the 1986 Mets was former Tiger jack-of-all-trades, Tim Corcoran, who used to get talked up a bit in late 70s Tigers publications.  There’s almost always one.

None of this has anything to do with Frank Viola, of course. But that’s how my mind works when it’s the offseason and nothin’ is going on.

Alex Wood to try pitching out of the stretch

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Pedro Moura of The Athletic reports that Dodgers starter Alex Wood plans to pitch out of the stretch throughout the 2018 season. Wood got the idea when he watched Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg pitch against the Dodgers.

Wood, 27, finished last season 16-3 with a 2.72 ERA and a 151/38 K/BB ratio in 152 1/3 innings. That’s a mighty fine season, one in which many pitchers would not dare to mess with something that isn’t broken.

Interestingly, Wood indeed has had better results with runners on base — when he would pitch out of the stretch — as opposed to the bases being empty, with a respective OPS allowed of .523 versus .684, respectively. Over his career, he has allowed a .617 OPS with runners on and .706 with the bases empty.

In response to Moura’s tweet about Wood, retired pitchers Dan Haren and Jered Weaver took the opportunity to burn themselves. Haren tweeted, “I pitched a few seasons completely out of the stretch actually, just not by choice.” Weaver responded, “Sometimes I would just step off and throw the ball in the gap myself because I knew the hitter would do it anyways.”