This tweet says it all:
For about two weeks in the middle of June, it looked like Ryan Howard had figured it out. Between June 12-22, he raised his OPS an even 100 points from .728 to .828, but it is back down to .778 after going 0-for-4 with three strikeouts in his return to the Phillies’ lineup in this afternoon’s loss. He had enjoyed a two-day reprieve to “release his mind“.
Howard now has the fourth-highest strikeout rate in the National League at 30.4 percent. With a mediocre 7.4 percent walk rate, he has the 11th-worst walk-to-strikeout ratio in the league at 0.24, per FanGraphs. He has been completely ineffective against left-handed pitching, which makes you wonder when GM Ruben Amaro will swallow his pride and demote his $125 million first baseman to one half of a first base platoon.
The Reds announced earlier that they plan to extend the protective netting at Great American Ball Park in time for Opening Day next season. You can add the Padres and Mariners to what will surely be a growing list.
A young fan was struck in the face by a foul ball at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday, which gave new life to the netting debate. Some fans and media types think Major League Baseball is not doing enough to protect fans. While Major League Baseball has issued guidelines for protective netting, it is ultimately up to the teams to decide just how much netting to use.
Orioles closer Zach Britton is likely done for the remainder of the 2017 season after receiving a stem cell injection in his left knee, Peter Schmuck and Jon Meoli of the Baltimore Sun report. Britton has been battling knee problems for most of the season.
The Orioles are still technically in the AL Wild Card race, entering play Thursday 5.5 games behind the Twins for the second Wild Card slot. With only nine games remaining, however, the 73-80 Orioles are likely being realistic about their chances and not taking any unnecessary risks with Britton.
Britton, 29, put up a 2.89 ERA with 15 saves and a 29/18 K/BB ratio in 37 1/3 innings this season. He will be eligible for arbitration for the fourth and final time this offseason.