Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post has it:
The Nationals have kicked the tires on Cubs right-hander Matt Garza, one person familiar with the situation said. Talks between the teams have not progressed to the point of the Nationals offering the Cubs a formal proposal.
Garza is also thought to be drawing trade interest from the Orioles, Rangers, Red Sox, Blue Jays, Indians and Dodgers, so he is not going to be an easy (or inexpensive) get for the team that ultimately acquires him.
Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun reported Saturday that the Cubs wanted two of the Orioles’ top five prospects — infielder Jonathan Schoop and left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez — in exchange for Garza.
Garza has an excellent 3.45 ERA, 1.12 WHIP and 52/18 K/BB ratio through his first 57 1/3 innings this season with Chicago. The 29-year-old is scheduled to hit the free agent market in November.
“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.