Franklin Gutierrez isn’t healthy, so Mariners petition MLB for more rehab

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Minor-league rehab assignments are limited to 20 days, in part so that teams can’t simply stash veteran players in the minors indefinitely. In some cases, however, an injury lingers longer than 20 days and things become tricky.

That’s happening with Mariners outfielder Franklin Gutierrez, whose hamstring injury remains an issue after 20 days in the minors. Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times reports that he’ll be examined by a doctor and then the Mariners will petition MLB for the right to have Gutierrez begin a second 20-day rehab assignment.

All of which seems mostly like a formality–MLB isn’t going to force Gutierrez to return from the disabled list when he’s clearly not fully healthy–but the bigger point is that injuries continue to wreck the once-promising center fielder’s career.

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.