Bryan Stow getting stronger, has trach tube removed

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Bryan Stow’s family reported Thursday that the formerly comatose Giants fan has had the tube removed from his tracheotomy procedure and that he continues to spreak with a “stronger and clearer voice.”

Giants manager Bruce Bochy visited Stow for 45 minutes on Saturday, telling him that he wanted to see him at spring training in Arizona next year. The following day, Stow got a visit from his favorite band, Queensryche.

Stow continues to deal with blood clots and isn’t quite up for full conversations yet, but it’s clear he’s made a lot of progress these last few weeks. It sounds like one of his and his family’s goals is to have him up and ready to throw out the first pitch at a Giants game next year.

No one pounds the zone anymore

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“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.