Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp has batted .314 with an .870 OPS in 39 plate appearances since returning from his severe left ankle sprain on September 16. But that ankle injury still lingers.
Kemp was scratched from the Dodgers’ starting lineup on Saturday night against the Rockies with what is being termed an ankle flareup and manager Don Mattingly acknowledged in his postgame chat that the 29-year-old is nowhere near 100 percent. “I don’t think he’s running full speed,” Mattingly said. “We’re not going to get the 40-[steals] type guy. That’s just not there, I don’t think, at this point from what we’ve been through with the ankle and the hammy and all that. We’re not going to be that. But we’re still pretty good. He shows he can do a lot of things.”
“It’s just irritated. Nothing crazy,” Kemp told MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick. “I played the last six games and it got a little sore. … I couldn’t get loose and decided not to play today. Sprained ankles are tricky sometimes.”
Andre Ethier (ankle, shin) and Yasiel Puig (leg) are also hobbled heading into Sunday’s Game 162. But the good news for the National League West-champion Dodgers is that the NLDS won’t begin until Thursday.
Craig covered the bulk of Rob Manfred’s quotes from earlier. The commissioner was asked about robot umpires and he’s not a fan. Via Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports:
Manfred was wrong to blame the player’s union’s “lack of cooperation” on proposed rule changes, but he’s right about robot umps and the strike zone. The obvious point is that robot umps cannot yet call balls and strikes with greater accuracy than umpires. Those strike zone Twitter accounts, such as this, are sometimes hilariously wrong. Even the strike zone graphics used on television are incorrect and unfortunate percentage of the time.
The first issue to consider about robot umps is taking jobs away from people. There are 99 umps and more in the minors. If robot umpiring was adopted in collegiate baseball, as well as the independent leagues, that’s even more umpires out of work. Is it worth it for an extra one or two percent improvement in accuracy?
Personally, the fallibility of the umpires adds more intrigue to baseball games. There’s strategy involved, as each umpire has tendencies which teams can strategize against. For instance, an umpire with a more generous-than-average strike zone on the outer portion of the plate might entice a pitcher to pepper that area with more sliders than he would otherwise throw. Hitters, knowing an umpire with a smaller strike zone is behind the dish, may take more pitches in an attempt to draw a walk. Or, knowing that information, a hitter may swing for the fences on a 3-0 pitch knowing the pitcher has to throw in a very specific area to guarantee a strike call or else give up a walk.
The umpires make their mistakes in random fashion, so it adds a chaotic, unpredictable element to the game as well. It feels bad when one of those calls goes against your team, but fans often forget the myriad calls that previously went in their teams’ favor. The mistakes will mostly even out in the end.
I haven’t had the opportunity to say this often, but Rob Manfred is right in this instance.
ESPN’s Howard Bryant is reporting that Major League Baseball has approved a rule allowing for a dugout signal for an intentional walk. In other words, baseball is allowing automatic intentional walks. Bryant adds that this rule will be effective for the 2017 season.
MLB has been trying, particularly this month, to improve the pace of play. Getting rid of the formality of throwing four pitches wide of the strike zone will save a minute or two for each intentional walk. There were 932 of them across 2,428 games last season, an average of one intentional walk every 2.6 games. It’s not the biggest improvement, but it’s something at least.
Earlier, Commissioner Rob Manfred was upset with the players’ union’s “lack of cooperation.” Perhaps his public criticism was the catalyst for getting this rule passed.
Unfortunately, getting rid of the intentional walk formality will eradicate the chance of seeing any more moments like this: