No-hitters in progress: Justin Verlander through eight, Yovani Gallardo’s is done

2 Comments

6:43 p.m. EDT: No-hitter! Davis swings and misses at a slider off the plate to end it.

6:41 p.m. EDT: McDonald hits a soft grounder to second for the second out.  Verlander dove for it, lucky not to deflect it to the side and turn it into a hit. Rajai Davis up.

6:39 p.m. EDT: Cooper pops up the first pitch he sees, a 97-mph fastball. One out.

6:38 p.m. EDT: The Tigers scored twice in the top of the ninth, giving Verlander plenty of time to think about things.  He’s back on the mound now. Cooper up.

6:30 p.m. EDT: If he gets through the ninth, Verlander would join Mark Buehrle as the only active pitchers with multiple no-hitters.  One could add Roy Halladay to the list, but his second no-hitter came in the postseason.  Verlander’s previous no-hitter came June 12, 2007 against the Brewers.

6:20 p.m. EDT: Encarnacion grounds into a double play to end the eighth.  Verlander will take a no-hitter into the ninth against David Cooper, John McDonald and Rajai Davis.  Their batting averages: .150, .205 and .177.

6:18 p.m. EDT: A terrific at-bat from Arencibia, who works the walk on the 12th pitch from Verlander.  He had just missed a double down the left-field line earlier in the at-bat.  Perfect game gone, no-hitter intact.

6:10 p.m. EDT: Mike McCoy, J.P. Arencibia and Edwin Encarnacion due up against Verlander in the eighth.  Verlander is six outs away from a perfect game.  It’d be his second career no-hitter.

6:07 p.m. EDT: Gallardo lost his bid in the eighth, as Daniel Descalso singled up the middle to begin the inning.

///

And Verlander’s is a perfect game, as he’s gone 21 up, 21 down against the Blue Jays.

Gallardo is at 104 pitches through seven, having walked four and struck out five Cardinals.  He’s working with just a one-run lead, as Kyle Lohse has been strong as well.

Gallardo has been helped by two terrific catches in the outfield, one from Carlos Gomez in the first and the other from Mark Kotsay in right with two on in the fifth.

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

Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
3 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.