Edwin Jackson drawing interest from Rangers and Padres

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The market for free agent right-hander Edwin Jackson has been a bit of a mystery until now, but with Zack Greinke and Ryan Dempster falling off the board over the past week and Anibal Sanchez nearing a decision, it appears things are finally heating up.

According to CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman, Jackson is a target of the Rangers on a potential short-term deal. Meanwhile, Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com was told by rival executives from two different teams that the Padres are “strongly pursuing” Jackson. The market for Jackson is said to be “strong,” so the Padres may drop out if the bidding got to $12-13 million over four or five years. That sounds a little rich, even in this market, so the Padres probably wouldn’t be alone there.

Jackson, 29, had a 4.03 ERA and 168/58 K/BB ratio over 189 2/3 innings this past season with the Nationals. He has pitched with seven different teams over 10 seasons in the majors. Signing with the Rangers or Padres would make it eight.

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.