It doesn’t happen every day, but a good 35-40% of the time, at about 5pm or so, I get a press release from Major League Baseball announcing minor league drug suspensions.
It’s getting to be like the whistle at the factory or something. A signal to me that the day is almost done and it’s time to go crack open a coldie. Well, some of us anyway. If you’re subject to the league’s drug treatment and rehabilitation program, you should probably not be using alcohol, dudes. Seriously. Anyway:
The Office of the Commissioner of Baseball announced today that two Minor League players have been suspended following their violations of the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.
Miami Marlins Minor League infielder Jaime Ortiz has received a 50-game suspension after testing positive for metabolites of Stanozolol, a performance-enhancing substance. Ortiz is currently on the roster of Double-A Jacksonville of the Southern League.
St. Louis Cardinals Minor League pitcher Jose Pasen has received a 50-game suspension after testing positive for metabolites of Nandrolone, a performance-enhancing substance. Pasen is currently on the roster of short-season Batavia of the New York-Penn League.
Hope you enjoyed the metabolites, fellas. For the rest of us, it’s Miller Time.
“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.