Tsuyoshi Nishioka just completed the worst three-game series I’ve ever seen from a major leaguer, going 0-for-12 at the plate, committing three errors in the field, and making several other obvious defensive miscues that weren’t officially ruled errors.
He also played horribly at Triple-A prior to being called up and was plenty awful in Minnesota last season, leading fans and media members to wonder if the Twins could stick with him for even one more game.
They can and they will, according to general manager Terry Ryan:
He had a very difficult game yesterday and we all saw it but the only way to find out how he’ll respond up here is to play him. It didn’t to go so well so now we’ll have a decision to make once [Trevor] Plouffe is healthy and ready to come off. So we’ll see how Plouffe responds in the next few days and go from there.
In other words, Nishioka is going to stick around until Trevor Plouffe comes off the disabled list and then the Twins will send him back to Triple-A. Or maybe just outright release him and eat the $3 million he’s owed next season.
“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.