Jayson Werth could miss another two weeks with hamstring injury

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The Nationals have Bryce Harper back in the starting lineup tonight against the Giants, but it appears that Jayson Werth’s absence from a hamstring injury will be a little longer than initially expected.

Nationals manager Davey Johnson told Amanda Comak of the Washington Times that he received an “alarming” report on Werth today. No word yet on the specific nature of the setback, but Johnson estimated that he could be sidelined for another two weeks. The Nationals were originally hoping to have him back over the weekend, but he experienced some tightness in his first rehab game last Wednesday. And now they’ll have to wait even longer.

Werth, who turned 34 today, is batting .260/.308/.400 with four home runs, 10 RBI and a .708 OPS through 27 games this season. Tyler Moore and Roger Bernadina have seen increased playing time during his absence.

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.