Tyler Chatwood, 21, earns first major league victory

Leave a comment

If you asked most baseball experts, they’d tell you that Angels prospect Tyler Chatwood is not ready for the big leagues. He made just one appearance above the Double-A level last season and turned 21 years old in December. There’s still an awful lot of polishing on the docket for the youngster.

But he didn’t play that part on Saturday evening against the White Sox. In fact, he looked like an experienced veteran.

Chatwood allowed only one run and five hits over seven innings in below-freezing temperatures at Chicago’s U.S Cellular Field, shutting down a powerful White Sox lineup by mixing a high-90s fastball and mid-70s curve. He walked only two and struck out three, needing only 92 total pitches to earn his first career major league victory in Anaheim’s 7-2 win.

The Angels are only relying on Chatwood here in mid-April because both Scott Kazmir and Joel Pineiro have landed on the disabled list. The young right-hander isn’t going to be guaranteed a rotation spot for the rest of the season, or even the rest of this month, but he can sure make things interesting if he continues to have success against quality major league lineups.

If Chatwood is doing the job and Kazmir continues to look lost when he returns, the Halos will have a big decision to make. And upside usually rules when it comes to such things.

A scout thinks the Astros strike out too much. The Astros have the lowest strikeout total in baseball.

Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
2 Comments

Great moments in scouting. MLB.com’s Richard Justice spoke to an unnamed scout about the Astros, currently holding the American League’s best record at 76-47. The scout said that the Astros strike out too much and it will catch up with them. Justice pointed out that the Astros have the lowest strikeout total in baseball. The scout responded, “I don’t believe that.”

Justice, of course, is correct. The average major league team has struck out 1,006 times entering Sunday’s action. The Astros have by far the lowest total at 827, followed by the Indians at 881 and the Pirates at 882.

This scout doesn’t represent all scouts, but this is one of the major problems that advocates of statistics were trying to highlight before Sabermetrics became popular a decade ago. It’s a pattern. Person believes thing. Person either cherry-picks evidence to defend belief or is shown evidence that belief is not factually true and ignores it. Person refuses to change belief, using one of many excuses.

The other problem this highlights is the fallacy of “the eye test,” which is shorthand for treating a scout’s observations as sacrosanct due to his or her experience and knowledge of the game. In this case, the scout ignored easily accessed information, went with his gut, and turned out to be completely wrong. Furthermore, if “the eye test” were legit, the scout would’ve known that, for example, Yulieski Gurriel and Jose Altuve hardly ever strike out (11.1 and 12.4 percent strikeout rates, respectively). In fact, no one on the Astros’ roster (min. 230 PA) has a strikeout rate above 21 percent; the league average is 21.5 percent.

This isn’t to impugn the practice of scouting as a whole. There are a lot of things scouts can tell you about a player that data cannot and that has value. But for easily-researched claims like “the Astros strike out too much,” there’s no reason to trust a scout over the stats.

Mets acquire Jacob Rhame from Dodgers

Getty Images
1 Comment

The Mets acquired right-handed reliever Jacob Rhame from the Dodgers, the team announced on Sunday. Rhame is the player to be named later in the trade that sent outfielder Curtis Granderson to Los Angeles on Friday night. He’s expected to report to the Mets’ Triple-A affiliate.

Rhame, 24, pitched through his second Triple-A campaign with the Oklahoma City Dodgers in 2017, collecting two saves in 41 appearances and logging a 4.31 ERA, 1.9 BB/9 and 10.3 SO/9 through 48 innings. While his ERA saw a sharp spike from its modest 3.29 mark in 2016 (perhaps thanks in part to a midseason DL stint due to an undisclosed injury), he’s controlling the ball better than he has in several years and has drawn some attention with a fastball that occasionally touches 98 MPH on the radar gun.

The Mets’ bullpen hasn’t been at its finest over the last few weeks, ranking 16th among its major league competitors with a collective 4.50 ERA and 2.4 fWAR, but likely isn’t looking to add an extreme fly ball pitcher to its staff just yet. Until he gets his big league break, Rhame will beef up Triple-A Vegas’ relief corps alongside fellow right-handers Yaisel Sierra, Joe Broussard and Josh Ravin.