Because you want to know what rock stars think of the pitching environment these days

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Rolling Stones has a series in which Dan Epstein — author of the fantastic “Big Hair and Plastic Grass” book about baseball in the 1970s — asks various musicians who happen to be baseball fans about the issues of the day. Among the many panel members: Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine, Pete Yorn, , Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie, Steve Earle, Alice Cooper and Scott Ian of Anthrax. 

Today’s issue: pitching is up, offense is down. R.A. Dickey and the no-hitters and perfect games of this season seem crazy. So what gives?

I think, overall, this group addresses it pretty darn reasonably. In fact, more reasonably than a lot of baseball fans and writers do. Only a couple of them go to the all-too-easy and none-too-accurate explanation that it’s all a function of steroids being out of the game.  Most of them couch in terms of the multiple factors I suspect are in play: fewer PEDs, better defense, better scouting, better pitcher development, etc.  I’m particularly taken with Steve Earle’s response, if only for the way he put it.

And then there’s Joe Pernice of the Pernice brothers:

What are pitchers doing in 2012 that they weren’t doing in 1995? Better scouting, better training and physical maintenance? Probably, but should that add up to more ridiculously good pitching performances? Who knows? The game is capricious. It’s similar to the duality of light: it is both particulate and wave-like. Try figuring out an electron’s position and the wavelength at which it travels. I dare you.

Yeah, man.

Video: Max Scherzer sets record with 13-strikeout outing

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Max Scherzer is a force to be reckoned with. The Nationals’ right-hander delivered a season-high 13 strikeouts against the Padres on Friday, locking down his fifth win and his fourth double-digit strikeout performance of the year.

More remarkably, it was also the 53rd double-digit strikeout performance of Scherzer’s career, tying Clayton Kershaw for the most 10+ strikeout appearances by an active major league pitcher. Chris Sale is a distant third, with 43 to his name, though he’s been making considerable strides to catch up so far this spring.

Scherzer took the Padres to task on Friday night, whiffing 13 of 31 batters during his 108-pitch outing. He started strong, catching Allen Cordoba swinging on a 1-2 count to start the game and keeping the game scoreless until Ryan Schimpf unleashed a home run in the fourth inning. That was the first and final run the Padres managed off of Scherzer, who retired 14 consecutive batters following the blast and came one out shy of a complete game in the ninth inning. (Fittingly, Koda Glover polished off the win with a final strikeout, bringing the total to 14 on the night.)

It’ll take more than one stellar start to advance Scherzer and Kershaw on the all-time list, however. Their 53-game record ranks 13th, about 159 games behind second-place Hall of Fame hurler Randy Johnson and a full 162 games shy of the inimitable Nolan Ryan.

Twins’ top prospect Nick Burdi will undergo Tommy John surgery

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Twins’ right-hander Nick Burdi is set to undergo Tommy John surgery on his right elbow, the team announced on Friday. Burdi made 14 appearances for Double-A Chattanooga before succumbing to a torn ulnar collateral ligament and is not expected to make his major league debut until mid-2018 at the earliest. A UCL tear doesn’t always require Tommy John surgery — less severe cases can be treated with platelet-rich plasma injections, for example — but Twins’ chief baseball officer Derek Falvey told the press that surgery was unavoidable as Burdi had sustained a “full thickness tear” in his elbow.

Entering the 2016 season, Burdi was widely considered a top ten prospect in the Twins’ system. His exceptional velocity and potent fastball-slider combo made him a fearsome relief option as he came off of his first season in Double-A Chattanooga in 2015. During the 2016 season, however, the 24-year-old experienced a significant setback after a bone bruise cut his season short in late July. Prior to Friday’s diagnosis, he appeared to be staging an impressive comeback with the Chattanooga Lookouts this spring, decorating his efforts with a sparkling 0.53 ERA, 2.1 BB/9 and 10.6 SO/9 over 17 innings.

It’s a tough break for the Twins, whose farm system was ranked 21st in the league by Baseball America. “Obviously he’s proven when he’s healthy he’s an absolute premium prospect, and the Twins are treating him that way,” Burdi’s agent, Matt Sosnick, told Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press. “We just want to make sure everything we do ultimately leads to the goal of getting him back on the field as quickly as he can.”