Patrick Corbin diagnosed with “damage” to left UCL

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Brutal news Sunday out of Diamondbacks camp.

According to Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic, staff ace Patrick Corbin has been diagnosed with “damage to the ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow.” Corbin is going to seek a second opinion, but a damaged UCL almost always leads to Tommy John surgery, which would cost the young left-hander the entire 2014 season and maybe even part of 2015.

Corbin had been projected to start the MLB season-opener on March 22 against the Dodgers in Australia. Wade Miley is going to pitch instead.

Corbin, 24, posted a 3.41 ERA, 1.166 WHIP, and 178 strikeouts in 208 1/3 innings last season.

That type of production is impossible to replace at this point, but the Diamondbacks could now consider opening the year with top pitching prospect Archie Bradley in the starting rotation.

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.