Dustin Pedroia headed for disabled list with thumb injury

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Dustin Pedroia managed to avoid the disabled list after being diagnosed with a torn adductor muscle in his right thumb in late May, but he’ll have no such luck this time around.

Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald reports that Pedroia is indeed DL-bound. The 28-year-old second baseman sat out yesterday’s game after jamming his right thumb while trying to make a diving catch during on Tuesday. The injury is in a different area than the torn muscle.

The Red Sox have yet to make an official announcement, but Rob Bradford of WEEI.com was told by a major league source that surgery will not be required and Pedroia is expected to return when he’s first eligible.

Pedroia is hitting .266/.326/.400 with six home runs, 33 RBI, six stolen bases and a .726 OPS in 74 games played. Nick Punto figures to get most of the playing time at second base during his absence.

No one pounds the zone anymore

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“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.