For as much fun as it has been to see the Braves continue to win baseball games with a lineup that shouldn’t, by all that is right and fair in the world, be able to hit its way out of a paper bag, getting Martin Prado back has to be high on Fredi Gonzalez’s list of things that need to happen. His return is closer now, as it appears as though he’ll begin a rehab assignment tomorrow.
Prado has said he wants to come back for the big series against Philly this weekend, but he also said that he thinks he needs about 60 at bats in order to get his swing back in order, and that won’t happen in just a couple of AAA games. Seems like the better bet is to let him cruise through the weekend with Gwinnett, rest for the All-Star break and the rejoin the Bravos next Friday when the Nats come to Atlanta to open up the second half.
You hear a lot about pitchers tipping pitches. It’s often offered up post-facto as an excuse for poor performance by the pitcher himself or his own team. It’s sort of like the “best shape of my life” thing being offered in the offseason to talk about why the player got injured or played badly the previous year. “Smitty’s stuff is still great, he was just tipping his pitches,” said a source close to the player whose stuff is not really great anymore.
Which isn’t to say that pitchers don’t tip pitches. Of course they do. Opposing teams look for it, pick up on it and take advantage of it whenever they can. It’s just that (a) the opposing team has an interest in not talking about it, lest the pitcher STOP tipping its pitches; and (b) the guy actually tipping his pitches doesn’t want to talk specifically about it lest he starts doing it again.
Which is what makes this article at Sports Illustrated so interesting. In it Tom Verducci talks to an anonymous Houston Astros player who explains how Dodgers starter Yu Darvish was tipping his pitches during the World Series, leading to him getting absolutely shellacked in Games 3 and 7. The upshot: the Astros knew when a slider or a cutter was coming, they waited for it and they teed off.
Darvish is a free agent now. I’m guessing, whoever signs him, knows exactly what they’ll gave him work on the first day of spring training.