Because of a J.J. Putz blown save, Arizona’s Ian Kennedy was denied a win last night despite holding the Giants to just an unearned run over eight innings. I noticed afterwards that it was the fifth time already this season that Kennedy has pitched at least eight innings and allowed one or no runs. As it turns out, that’s tied for the major league lead.
Here’s the pitchers with the most starts fitting those two qualifications (8 or more IP, 0 or 1 runs allowed):
5 – Cole Hamels, Kennedy, Kyle Lohse, James Shields
4 – Jaime Garcia, Cliff Lee, Justin Verlander, Jered Weaver
3 – Bartolo Colon, Yovani Gallardo, Carl Pavano, Anibal Sanchez, Carlos Zambrano
And still no Roy Halladay. He’s had just two, those coming back-to-back against the Padres and Mets at the end of April. He’s had three starts in which he’s pitched at least eight innings and allowed two runs and two more in which he’s come out after seven scoreless innings.
Josh Beckett, the major league leader in ERA, has also had two. He’s lasted eight innings in only three of his 14 starts.
Jair Jurrjens, the NL ERA leader, has had one.
Kennedy has quietly been outstanding for the Diamondbacks this season. In all, he’s allowed one run or fewer eight times in 14 starts. Still, he hasn’t gotten a lot of hype. Giving up nine runs to the Cardinals in his third start of the year has left him with an inflated ERA that he only finally managed to bring under 3.00 with last night’s performance. However, he’ll deserve All-Star consideration if he keeps this up.
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.
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: