Nationals pitching coach: “strikeouts are bulls***”

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Nationals’ pitching coach Steve McCatty spoke with Yahoo!’s Les Carpenter and gave a less entertaining version of Crash Davis’ “strikeouts are boring, besides that, they’re fascist” speech:

“Strikeouts are bull[bleep],” he says … If you try to strike out every hitter you’re going to burn up pitches … Look, just do the math. If you’re taking 15-20 pitches to get through every inning that will multiply fast.”  He would rather his pitchers let the hitters hit the ball.

Probably worth noting that:

  • The Nationals are fifth in all of baseball and third in the NL in strikeouts per nine innings; and
  • Their two best starters, Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez, are striking out 11.6 and 10.4 batters per nine innings, respectively, which is number one and number three in all of baseball among starters.

Indeed, there is almost a perfect correlation between how many wins a Nationals pitcher has and how many he’s striking out: the more the better.

Which doesn’t mean that McCatty doesn’t have a point. Ideally, yes, you want your pitcher to throw fewer pitches if possible and striking out guys takes more pitches. But it’s also true that the best way to control damage as a pitcher is to allow fewer opportunities for things to go wrong. Contact can lead to errors and seeing-eye hits and homers and all kinds of bad things. Strikeouts, not so much.  Throw strikes and try to miss bats and you’re gonna be successful. And often times, a lot of strikeouts is the byproduct of that.

All of this reminds me of hitting coaches who get all worked up about wanting their hitters to take the ball to the opposite field, shorten their swing and not strike out despite the fact that the team’s best hitter is almost certainly a dude who pulls the ball with authority.

Report: Braves extend Kurt Suzuki

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Kurt Suzuki will wear a Braves’ uniform through the 2018 season after signing a one-year, $3.5 million extension with the club on Saturday, per The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal. Rosenthal adds that the two had been in talks for weeks and Suzuki made it clear that he wanted to remain in Atlanta for the foreseeable future. The team has yet to announce the extension.

Suzuki, 33, initially signed a one-year contract with the Braves back in January. The veteran backstop stepped into a backup role behind starting catcher Tyler Flowers, but still found a way to impress at the plate with a .271/.343/.525 batting line, career-best 18 home runs and an .868 OPS through 287 PA. According to FanGraphs, Suzuki’s 2.2 fWAR makes 2017 his most valuable season since his run with the 2009 Athletics.

It’s a prudent move for the Braves, who would have lost one of their most dynamic second-half hitters to the free agent market this offseason. Entering Saturday, Suzuki is second only to Freddie Freeman with 11 homers and 1.4 fWAR since the All-Star break. His stunning comeback also confirmed the team’s decision to look outside the organization for a backup catcher, rather than turning to fellow veteran Anthony Recker behind the plate.

“On a personal level, this season exceeded my expectations,” Suzuki told reporters on Wednesday. “It’s just one of those things I can’t explain. I put a lot of work in and really didn’t have a job until late January. I got an opportunity here and took advantage of it. It was definitely a good fit.”

Mikie Mahtook is likely done for the season

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Tigers’ outfielder Mikie Mahtook is unlikely to play again this season, club manager Brad Ausmus announced Saturday. Mahtook was diagnosed with a Grade 2 left groin strain following Friday’s series opener against the Twins, when he appeared to injure himself after chasing down Byron Buxton‘s two-RBI double in the fourth.

This is the second time Mahtook has sustained a groin injury over the past month. The 27-year-old exited Friday’s game with a .276/.330/.457 batting line, 12 home runs and a .787 OPS through 379 plate appearances with the team.

With the Tigers out of contention, there’s no reason to trot out Mahtook for the remaining eight games of the regular season. The club has yet to specify a timetable for his return, but there’s no reason to believe he won’t be in fine shape to compete for a starting role next spring.