Justin Morneau sidelined with mild concussion symptoms

7 Comments

Nearly 14 months after taking a knee to the head while trying to break up a double play against the Blue Jays, Justin Morneau continues to suffer the aftereffects of a concussion.  He’s out of Minnesota’s lineup tonight with what the team is calling “mild concussion symptoms.”

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s Joe Christensen reports that Morneau started developing a headache Monday and that the Twins have had him take baseline tests.

With the Twins 56-78 and 17 games back in the AL Central, there certainly won’t be any fooling around with Morneau’s condition.  It’s been a pretty miserable year for him anyway: he was limited by neck and wrist injuries early on and he surgery at the end of June to remove a fragment of a herniated disk from his wrist.  The new concussion symptoms might be related to an incident Sunday when he drove after a ball and jammed his shoulder.

So, barring a very quick recovery, the Twins might be best off just shutting Morneau down for the year.  It’s been a lost campaign for him anyway.  He’s hit .227/.285/.333 with four homers and 30 RBI in 264 at-bats.

No one pounds the zone anymore

Getty Images
Leave a comment

“Work fast and throw strikes” has long been the top conventional wisdom for those preaching pitching success. The “work fast” part of that has increasingly gone by the wayside, however, as pitchers take more and more time to throw pitches in an effort to max out their effort and, thus, their velocity with each pitch.

Now, as Ben Lindbergh of The Ringer reports, the “throw strikes” part of it is going out of style too:

Pitchers are throwing fewer pitches inside the strike zone than ever previously recorded . . . A decade ago, more than half of all pitches ended up in the strike zone. Today, that rate has fallen below 47 percent.

There are a couple of reasons for this. Most notable among them, Lindbergh says, being pitchers’ increasing reliance on curves, sliders and splitters as primary pitches, with said pitches not being in the zone by design. Lindbergh doesn’t mention it, but I’d guess that an increased emphasis on catchers’ framing plays a role too, with teams increasingly selecting for catchers who can turn balls that are actually out of the zone into strikes. If you have one of those beasts, why bother throwing something directly over the plate?

There is an unintended downside to all of this: a lack of action. As Lindbergh notes — and as you’ve not doubt noticed while watching games — there are more walks and strikeouts, there is more weak contact from guys chasing bad pitches and, as a result, games and at bats are going longer.

As always, such insights are interesting. As is so often the case these days, however, such insights serve as an unpleasant reminder of why the on-field product is so unsatisfying in so many ways in recent years.