Mets designate reliever Brandon Lyon for assignment

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The Mets announced after today’s game that they have designated veteran reliever Brandon Lyon for assignment. Greg Burke will be called up before Friday’s game to take his place in the bullpen.

Signed to a one-year, $750,000 deal over the winter, Lyon owns a 4.98 ERA and 23/13 K/BB ratio in 34 1/3 innings over 37 appearances this season. The 33-year-old right-hander has really struggled recently, allowing nine runs on 14 hits and seven walks over his last seven appearances. He gave up an RBI single to Martin Prado today in an eventual loss to the Diamondbacks.

Lyon had a 3.12 ERA less than one month ago and posted a 3.10 ERA in 67 appearances last season between the Astros and Blue Jays, so while the Mets are ready to turn the page, he should resurface somewhere fairly quickly.

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.