Whatever happened to the spitball?

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Jonah Keri has a great article over at Grantland today. It’s about the spitball. Its history. Its glory. Its grossness. And, ultimately, its decline.

But why did it decline? One reason cited, which I never considered, was the advent of the split-fingered fastball, which basically made the ball do the same thing all of that grease and spit and stuff did.

Another reason: much like the powers of the Jedi in the days following the end the of Clone Wars, there were no masters around to teach the young padawans:

The advantage Perry, Sutton, and their contemporaries had on today’s pitchers was infrastructure. Sutton and Drysdale could and would exchange notes on how to beat hitters using doctored pitches. If you didn’t have a teammate who threw a spitter, your pitching coach may have known how to throw one. Or a pitcher on another team. Or a recently retired pitcher willing to share his trade secrets. You apprenticed at the feet of the masters, learned the ways of deception, then passed your own knowledge on to the next generation. But Sutter’s emergence and the subsequent spread of the split-fingered fastball ate away at that support system. The incentive to throw a spitball dropped with a new weapon emerging, and then even if a pitcher wanted to learn to throw a spitball, there were far fewer teachers willing and able to show him how it was done.

That kind of stinks. But looking at it from a Moneyball perspective: in this saliva-barren environment, any pitcher who can master the fine art of the spitter will have a distinct advantage, no?

Keri talks about that too — and suggests some ways pitchers can maybe kinda sorta start doctoring balls in greater numbers than they currently are — but eh, let’s just forget that. It’s kinda gross.

Trevor Rosenthal’s season is over: Cards place him on the 60-day disabled list

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Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal is done for the season as the Cardinals have transferred him from the 10-day to the 60-day disabled list.

He had originally been placed on the 10-Day DL last Thursday with “elbow irritation” and “arm tightness” but it’s obviously more than a mere irritation. He has seen two specialists in the past week and, while the team has not given word as to his official diagnosis, both specialists are Tommy John guys, which suggests that major elbow surgery is in the offing for Rosenthal.

Rosenthal finishes the year at 3-4 with a 3.40 ERA and a K/BB ratio of 76/20 in 47.2 innings with 11 saves. He had lost the closer’s job heading into the year but had regained it before going down. Going forward, some combination of Seung Hwan Oh, Tyler Lyons, and John Brebbia will fill cover the end of games as the Cardinals try to climb back into the playoff picture.

Steven Matz underwent season-ending surgery

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Steven Matz underwent season-ending surgery on his left elbow today. The procedure was to reposition a compressed nerve in his elbow.

Matz, 26, has struggled over 13 starts, posting a 6.08 ERA with a 48/19 K/BB ratio in 66.2 innings. That line was, obviously, a function of the bum nerve in the bum elbow. Trouble aside, Matz is expected to be ready for Opening Day in 2018.