As if falling to 6-16 with a loss to the Angels wasn’t bad enough for the Twins tonight, Justin Morneau exited the game with soreness in his surgically repaired left wrist.
Even worse, Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com reports that Morneau is flying back to Minnesota to be examined by a team doctor, which isn’t a good sign considering the Twins are just beginning a six-game West Coast road trip that goes through Sunday.
Morneau has played 20 of 22 games after entering the season as a huge question mark following his concussion-related health problems and multiple surgeries. His production has been very inconsistent, including a .239 batting average and .313 on-base percentage, but he has shown good power with four homers and five doubles in 74 at-bats.
And now the Twins will wait to see if the former MVP has a third straight season ruined by injuries.
“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.