Atlanta Braves Photo Day

Julio Teheran to make his major league debut on Saturday

8 Comments

I mentioned earlier that the Eric Hosmer callup is going to interfere with my Friday night plans with the wife. Well, might as well cancel the entire weekend, Mrs. Calcaterra, because on Saturday it’s even better: the Braves have called up top prospect Julio Teheran and will give him the start against the Phillies.

Teheran is not just considered the Braves’ top prospect. According to Keith Law he is the best pitching prospect in all of baseball.  Just 20 years-old, he’s listed as 6’2″, but he is described as having a long and easy delivery with a plus fastball and a great changeup.  So far at AAA Gwinnett the righthander has had five starts. In those five starts he’s 3-0 with a 1.80 ERA and 25 strikeouts in 30 innings while walking eight. He had a 2.59 ERA and 159/40 K/BB ratio in 142 innings across three levels last year.

Whether this is a permanent callup is an open question. The Braves needed to do something thanks to a rainout and a doubleheader earlier this week. They had penciled in Tommy Hanson on short rest for Sunday, but Atlanta tends not to like giving him short rest.  Another option was Mike Minor, who has at least pitched in the bigs before and would seem like a more likely stopgap starter than Teheran, but he just pitched last night. Given that the Braves’ rotation is otherwise just fine, it’s entirely possible that this is just a one-off for Teheran.

But one-off or not, it’s a formidable opponent in the debut. Going against the Phillies is a tall order, but the fact that he won’t be facing one of the four aces is a plus for him, and hopefully will take some of the pressure off. That is, as long as me and thousands of fellow Braves fanboys squealing like girls at a Beatles concert doesn’t cause any pressure.

Rob Manfred on robot umps: “In general, I would be a keep-the-human-element-in-the-game guy.”

KANSAS CITY, MO - APRIL 5:  Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred talks with media prior to a game between the New York Mets and Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium on April 5, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
Ed Zurga/Getty Images
15 Comments

Craig covered the bulk of Rob Manfred’s quotes from earlier. The commissioner was asked about robot umpires and he’s not a fan. Via Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports:

Manfred was wrong to blame the player’s union’s “lack of cooperation” on proposed rule changes, but he’s right about robot umps and the strike zone. The obvious point is that robot umps cannot yet call balls and strikes with greater accuracy than umpires. Those strike zone Twitter accounts, such as this, are sometimes hilariously wrong. Even the strike zone graphics used on television are incorrect and unfortunate percentage of the time.

The first issue to consider about robot umps is taking jobs away from people. There are 99 umps and more in the minors. If robot umpiring was adopted in collegiate baseball, as well as the independent leagues, that’s even more umpires out of work. Is it worth it for an extra one or two percent improvement in accuracy?

Personally, the fallibility of the umpires adds more intrigue to baseball games. There’s strategy involved, as each umpire has tendencies which teams can strategize against. For instance, an umpire with a more generous-than-average strike zone on the outer portion of the plate might entice a pitcher to pepper that area with more sliders than he would otherwise throw. Hitters, knowing an umpire with a smaller strike zone is behind the dish, may take more pitches in an attempt to draw a walk. Or, knowing that information, a hitter may swing for the fences on a 3-0 pitch knowing the pitcher has to throw in a very specific area to guarantee a strike call or else give up a walk.

The umpires make their mistakes in random fashion, so it adds a chaotic, unpredictable element to the game as well. It feels bad when one of those calls goes against your team, but fans often forget the myriad calls that previously went in their teams’ favor. The mistakes will mostly even out in the end.

I haven’t had the opportunity to say this often, but Rob Manfred is right in this instance.

Report: MLB approves new rule allowing a dugout signal for an intentional walk

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 29:  MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred laughs during a ceremony naming the 2016 winners of the Mariano Rivera American League Reliever of the Year Award and the Trevor Hoffman National League Reliever of the Year Award before Game Four of the 2016 World Series between the Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Indians at Wrigley Field on October 29, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images
25 Comments

ESPN’s Howard Bryant is reporting that Major League Baseball has approved a rule allowing for a dugout signal for an intentional walk. In other words, baseball is allowing automatic intentional walks. Bryant adds that this rule will be effective for the 2017 season.

MLB has been trying, particularly this month, to improve the pace of play. Getting rid of the formality of throwing four pitches wide of the strike zone will save a minute or two for each intentional walk. There were 932 of them across 2,428 games last season, an average of one intentional walk every 2.6 games. It’s not the biggest improvement, but it’s something at least.

Earlier, Commissioner Rob Manfred was upset with the players’ union’s “lack of cooperation.” Perhaps his public criticism was the catalyst for getting this rule passed.

Unfortunately, getting rid of the intentional walk formality will eradicate the chance of seeing any more moments like this: