Joe Posnanski reminds us (again) why a pitcher’s wins are overrated

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It seems like the Cy Young award voting this year will be pretty straight forward. None of that stuff like we had last year when half of the baseball commentariat yelled at the other half that the win totals shouldn’t matter when deciding who the best pitcher is.  All of the possible Cy Young winners this year have healthy win totals. And the guy who will likely have the most wins — Justin Verlander — has an outrageously good case for the award even if you ignore them.

But Joe Posnanski’s essay about the value of wins — not just their valuelessness — is good reading all the same.  Because, as he usually does, he provides that nice conciliatory middle ground that the people on either side of the pitcher wins debate — or most other debates — usually fail to provide.

How so? By reminding the win crowd that wins aren’t the best statistic, but doing so in a manner that isn’t all pissy and impatient like some of, um, us who don’t like pitchers wins tend to do.  Here he does it by good example. The best: his handling of Steve Carlton’s 1972 season, often cited as an argument for pitcher wins as being a useful metric, but shown to be less-than-useful upon close examination. NOTE: also check out The Platoon Advantage’s take on this from last year.

And on the other side: he reminds us that just because pitcher wins don’t tell us anything particularly useful about the quality of the pitcher for analysis purposes, they are interesting to discuss.  They may not have value as a metric, but they have value as a topic.  In this Posnanski is quite close to the “remember the beer” argument of which I have become such a fan.  The argument which holds that we are not prevented from enjoying discussion and even honoring of something simply because it doesn’t comport with sabermetric principles.  At least as long as we don’t pretend that the cool event/accomplishment we are honoring means more than it truly does.

I’m guessing Posnanski has read it too, and he is remembering the beer.  And speaking of beer, I have a cookout to get too.  Happy Labor Day everyone.

Julio Urias to undergo season-ending shoulder surgery

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The news has gone from bad to worse for Dodgers’ left-hander Julio Urias, who is scheduled for anterior capsule surgery on his left shoulder next Tuesday and expected to be sidelined through the middle of the 2018 season. His MRI came back negative on Wednesday, giving the Dodgers some hope that the 20-year-old’s bout of shoulder inflammation wasn’t masking any structural damage, but the pain lingered several days later and prompted further concern from the club. The procedure will be performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache.

Urias was optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma City in late May and placed on the disabled list with left shoulder discomfort several weeks into his assignment. At the major league level, he owned a 5.40 ERA, 5.4 BB/9 and 4.2 SO/9 through 23 1/3 innings, going 0-2 in five starts with Los Angeles. He made a brief rebound in Triple-A, posting three wins and striking out 17 of 67 batters in 17 1/3 innings before landing on the DL.

It’s a tough blow for the southpaw, who had yet to hit his stride in the majors before getting sidelined with shoulder issues. The Dodgers were especially mindful of this outcome for Urias, and had taken preventative measures to protect his arm by establishing a strict innings limit last season. According to club president Andrew Friedman, there’s a small silver lining here: while Urias’ injury will keep him out of work for at least 12 months, he doesn’t appear to have sustained any damage to his labrum or rotator cuff, and could be facing a much more streamlined recovery process as a result. Whether he’ll be able to rebound once he takes the mound again remains to be seen.

Tigers release Francisco Rodriguez

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Tigers’ right-handed reliever Francisco Rodriguez was released on Friday, per a team announcement. The club recalled fellow right-hander Bruce Rondon from Triple-A Toledo in a corresponding move.

The former closer got the boot after losing his closing role in early May, giving left-hander Justin Wilson a chance to impress at the back end of the bullpen. It’s been a rough year for Rodriguez, who manufactured six blown saves and a 7.82 ERA, 3.9 BB/9 and 8.2 SO/9 over 25 1/3 innings for the Tigers. The final straw, it seemed, came with Robinson Cano‘s grand slam in the seventh inning of the Tigers’ 6-9 loss to the Mariners on Thursday.

While the demotion to a clean-up role and an apparent lack of communication caused Rodriguez considerable frustration, he’s two years removed from his last dominant performance as a major league closer and has shown few signs of returning to form. His recent slump doesn’t diminish the impressive totals he’s racked up over his 16-year career — 437 saves and six All-Star nominations among them — but if he can’t break out of it soon, he may not receive the kind of high leverage role he’s seeking with another big league team, either.