Mark Mulder has worked out for the Giants, Padres, Angels, Phillies and Diamondbacks

17 Comments

The following report comes from Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe:

Mulder is looking for a creative contract as he makes his comeback attempt. He may have to agree to a minor league deal first, with incentives if he makes the major league club. Mulder has worked out for the Giants, Padres, Diamondbacks, Angels, and Phillies over two sessions. In the second session, Mulder, who hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2008, improved his velocity from 88 to 92 miles per hour. It’s a long road back, but the fact that Mulder’s shoulder is showing no signs of discomfort could mean he’d be a good back-end option for someone.

The Red Sox have “inquired” about the 36-year-old left-hander, writes the Boston-based Cafardo, but “probably won’t pursue him” much further.

Mulder allowed 96 runs — 91 earned — over his final 106 major league innings. But there is very little risk in a non-guaranteed minor league contract, so look for him to wind up in camp with a team next spring.

No one pounds the zone anymore

Getty Images
4 Comments

“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.