Last night after Jayson Werth broke his wrist attempting a diving catch in right field the Nationals announced that he was expected to miss six weeks.
Today he underwent surgery and Bill Ladson of MLB.com talked to a team source who said Werth “will be out for more than six weeks” and guessed that it would instead be “at least 12 weeks.”
That’s obviously a huge difference, as six weeks would have meant a potential late June or early July return whereas 12 weeks could knock him out until August or even September.
In his absence the Nationals are shifting Bryce Harper to right field and platooning Roger Bernadina and Xavier Nady in left field, although giving prospect Tyler Moore a crack at the starting job is also an option. Moore was exclusively a first baseman prior to this season, but recently logged a handful of starts in left field and it might be worth sacrificing some defense to get his 25-homer power into the lineup.
“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.