Kendrys Morales “more and more likely” to begin year on DL

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Initially there was talk that Kendrys Morales would be limited to designated hitter duties early on as he recovers from last season’s broken leg, but now Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times writes that “it appears more and more likely Morales won’t be ready for the opener” at all.

If he does play in Game 1 it’ll be at DH, but DiGiovanna reports that he’s still running at less than 100 percent and hasn’t been cleared for game action.

Here’s what manager Mike Scioscia told DiGiovanna about Morales’ current status:

We’re going to know in a couple of days whether he’s game ready. Everything is contingent on how he comes out of these workouts. Hopefully, he’ll be comfortable enough to get some at-bats in a game soon. But he’ll be ready when he’s ready. We can’t rush this. We’re seeing good signs but not enough to make a determination today.

Morales beginning the season on the disabled list would all but guarantee spring training standout Mark Trumbo an Opening Day roster spot and might also mean Brandon Wood makes the team.

No one pounds the zone anymore

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“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.