This isn’t quite on the level of Stephen Strasburg, but another talented young right-hander will be shut down soon.
According to Andy McCullough of the Newark Star-Ledger, Matt Harvey will make two more starts before being shut down for the season. His next scheduled start is Wednesday against the Nationals while his season will likely end during a three-game series against the Phillies at Citi Field from September 17-19. Jenrry Mejia is expected to take his rotation spot the rest of the way.
Harvey has logged 157 1/3 innings between the majors and minors this year after throwing 135 2/3 innings in his first professional season last year. The 23-year-old rookie has been mighty impressive over his first eight starts in the big leagues, posting a 3.04 ERA and 53/20 K/BB ratio over 47 1/3 innings. If all goes according to plan, he’ll open 2013 in the Mets’ rotation along with Johan Santana, R.A. Dickey, Jon Niese and Dillon Gee. Top prospect Zack Wheeler shouldn’t be too far behind.
“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.