Bucs lose Starling Marte to oblique injury, recall Jose Tabata

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Starling Marte has appeared in 23 straight games with the Pirates since his promotion from Triple-A Indianapolis on July 26. But that streak will be snapped in Sunday’s series finale at Busch Stadium.

According to Michael Sanserino of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Marte has been placed on the 15-day disabled list with a right oblique strain that he suffered in Saturday night’s 5-4 loss to the Cardinals.

Jose Tabata has been recalled to take the open roster spot despite batting just .297/.353/.354 with zero home runs and 15 RBI in 41 games on the farm.

Marte, a 23-year-old top prospect, has registered a .708 OPS with four homers, four stolen bases and 10 RBI over the first 23 games of his major league career. He should rejoin the Pirates around early September.

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.