Ryan Howard to be off baseball activities one more week; Pence to have an MRI

10 Comments

The Phillies announced that they’re going to keep Ryan Howard from baseball activities for one more week today. Ruben Amaro:

“Howard’s wound has gotten smaller and is healing. We’ve been advised to limit his activities for one more week to allow it to continue to heal. We hope that he will be able to re-start his baseball activities thereafter.”

There had been hope that he’d be cleared now, but no dice.

In other news, Hunter Pence is going to have a “precautionary MRI” on his bum shoulder today.  The results should be released later this afternoon.

In other other news, I really want these guys and Chase Utley to get better soon. Two reasons: (1) injuries suck, even when they’re to guys on teams you don’t root for; and (2) It’s no fun trolling Phillies fans when they’re more morose about the team than I am.

No one pounds the zone anymore

Getty Images
Leave a comment

“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.