White Sox claim Javy Guerra off waivers from Dodgers

2 Comments

Javy Guerra was designated for assignment by the Dodgers to make room for Chone Figgins on the roster last week and the White Sox have claimed the 28-year-old reliever off waivers.

Guerra spent most of last season at Triple-A, making just nine (bad) appearances for the Dodgers and missing time with an elbow injury, but in 2011 and 2012 he posted a combined 2.45 ERA with 75 strikeouts in 92 innings.

His control is spotty and Guerra was never a great fit as a rookie closer in Los Angeles, but if healthy he’s well-suited for a middle relief gig and can help the White Sox.

No one pounds the zone anymore

Getty Images
Leave a comment

“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.