Dodgers activate Carl Crawford, demote Scott Van Slyke

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The Dodgers have activated outfielder Carl Crawford from the 15-day disabled list, reports Scott Miller of CBS Sports. To make room for Crawford on the roster, Scott Van Slyke has been demoted to Triple-A Albuquerque.

Crawford had been on the shelf since June 2 with a strained left hamstring. He appeared to be well on his way to a successful season after a subpar 2011 in his first year with the Red Sox and an injury-dampened 2012, but the off-injured outfielder felt sore after attempting to make a catch on May 30 against the Angels. To that point, Crawford was hitting .301 with 19 extra-base hits and nine stolen bases in 12 attempts.

Since hitting the ground running with his 2013 debut on May 10, posting a .989 OPS with six home runs in 60 PA through June 5, Van Slyke slumped. From June 6-30, he mustered a .535 OPS in 20 at-bats spread out over eight games.

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.