Lineups for Game 2 of the NLCS in St. Louis …
LF Carl Crawford
2B Mark Ellis
1B Adrian Gonzalez
RF Yasiel Puig
3B Juan Uribe
CF Skip Schumaker
C A.J. Ellis
SS Nick Punto
SP Clayton Kershaw
Big changes now that Hanley Ramirez has been scratched due to sore ribs. Carl Crawford and Mark Ellis remain remain in the same spots, but everybody else will move up in the order. Meanwhile, Nick Punto will play shortstop. Andre Ethier made his first start in center field in nearly a month last night, but it’s no surprise to see Skip Schumaker in there with the quick turnaround after the extra-inning loss in Game 1. Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register reports that X-rays on Ethier’s left ankle came back negative after last night’s game, but he’s clearly not 100 percent.
2B Matt Carpenter
RF Carlos Beltran
LF Matt Holliday
C Yadier Molina
3B David Freese
1B Matt Adams
CF Jon Jay
SS Pete Kozma
SP Michael Wacha
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny has altered his lineup slightly with left-hander Clayton Kershaw on the hill for Los Angeles. Yadier Molina will move into the cleanup and David Freese will bat sixth while Matt Adams and Jon Jay both slide down in the order.
“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.