UPDATE: Adam McCalvy of MLB.com hears that the holdup is not related to medical concerns and that it’s just taking some time to wrap up the deal. It’s still a weird situation, as FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports that Garza took his physical today and the Brewers were prepared to introduce him at a news conference.
7:26 p.m. ET: FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reported earlier this afternoon that the Brewers and right-hander Matt Garza had agreed to a four-year, $52 million contract, but this mysterious Tweet from the team suggests that there could be a hitch in the plan:
It’s very unusual to see an announcement like this. Usually teams will not confirm or deny reports of signings until a physical is completed. As Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel speculates, this could be a sign that some physical issue has come up. For what it’s worth, Garza has dealt with elbow and lat issues in recent years. According to Adam McCalvy of MLB.com, Brewers general manager declined to comment when asked if there was a red flag during the physical.
“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.