Alfredo Aceves is back in the Yankees organization for a second time. Ken Davidoff of the New York Post reports that the Yankees have signed the right-hander to a minor league deal. Davidoff adds that Aceves will slide into the starting rotation at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. His contract includes an opt-out date on July 1.
Aceves made his big league debut with the Yankees in 2008 and remained with the organization through 2010. He suffered a back injury and the Yankees did not keep him around. As a result, Aceves signed with the rival Red Sox in February 2011. He signed a minor league deal with the Orioles in January, but exercised the opt-out clause in his contract on Thursday. Overall, in 361 Major League innings, Aceves has a career 3.69 ERA with mediocre strikeout and walk rates.
“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.