The Tigers to trade Max Scherzer? Yeah, I’m not buying that

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Danny Knobler of CBS Sports.com writes today that it’s “a real possibility” that the Tigers would trade Max Scherzer this offseason. His evidence: Scherzer is going to make a lot of money soon. That’s pretty much it. No sources, no “insiders are saying.” There is one reference to “baseball people familiar with the Tigers” talking about how Detroit may make some major moves if they don’t advance in the postseason.

God, I hope baseball people are familiar with the Tigers. They’ve been around for over a century!

Really, though: while anything can happen, I’m struggling to think of a situation in which the Tigers traded Scherzer. In addition to being this years likely Cy Young Award winner, he’s a key part of the pitching staff. And the Tigers have shown no compunction about (a) spending money; and (b) dealing with Scott Boras. And those are the two factors — expense and Scherzer’s status as a Boras client — which inspires Knobler to speculate here.

Just not buying it. Not on this by itself. Makes little sense.

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.