Shortly after last night’s Game 2 victory Rangers manager Ron Washington announced that struggling first baseman Mitch Moreland will be out of the lineup for Game 3 of the ALCS tonight.
Moreland, who’s just 2-for-17 during the playoffs and went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts in Game 2, will be replaced at first base with Michael Young while Mike Napoli gets a break from catching duties at designated hitter and Yorvit Torrealba moves into the lineup behind the plate.
During the regular season Moreland hit .266 with a .783 OPS versus righties compared to .234 with a .577 OPS versus lefties, but because Detroit doesn’t have a left-handed pitcher in the rotation Washington’s usual routine of sitting Moreland against southpaws isn’t any option.
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.