Mike Schmidt says umpires should not call balls and strikes

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Usually, when a baseball star of yesteryear talks about technology in the game, it’s to decry it. Mike Schmidt is not your usual baseball star of yesteryear. As he told 97.5 The Fanatic today, he thinks umpires should get out of the balls and strikes business:

“I think the umpire at home plate should not call balls and strikes. I think they should have a force field over home plate and if the pitcher throws and the ball touches the force field a little bell goes off and it’s a strike . . . we’re going to see at some time – my guess is within the next 10 years – that you’ll see the balls and strikes being treated just like they treat the line calls in tennis. You’d think it would be something very easy to do with what they can do electronically in our world today.”

I think he’s right about that. Not about “force fields,” because that’s not what they are (and his use of that term is adorable) but using some variation of the QuesTec/Pitch/FX technology to actually call balls and strikes seems like an inevitability to me. The only issue now is speed, as there is, I am told a small but significant enough delay between pitches and the actual register of the pitch that it could cause problems to the flow of the game.

But that’s the sort of thing that’ll get fixed soon, if it isn’t already being addressed. Then Mike Schmidt will get to see his force fields.

Struggling Francisco Rodriguez’s job seems to be secure

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Tigers closer Francisco Rodriguez continued to struggle on Thursday, allowing a run in a 2-1 loss to the Mariners. It’s the sixth time in nine appearances that the right-handed veteran has allowed a run, bumping his ERA up to 6.23. He’s blown two saves and has two losses on the year.

Despite that, it doesn’t sound like Rodriguez’s job as the Tigers’ closer is in any jeopardy, Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press reports. When asked how much of a leash Rodriguez has, manager Brad Ausmus said, “I’ll let you know.” Ausmus continued, “I think people have short memories. This guy did a pretty good job for us last year. Early on, people were worried because the velocity was down. Well, the velocity is back.”

“But at some point,” Ausmus said, “he does have to pitch the way he pitched last year, because he did an outstanding job for us last year and in a city that has been looking for a closer that was consistent for a long time, he was that.”

Rodriguez, 35, doesn’t have the stuff he once did. And the Tigers do appear to have someone who would be a better option in high-leverage situations. Lefty Justin Wilson has thrown 9 2/3 scoreless, hitless innings so far this season with 15 strikeouts and three walks. But for now, it sounds like Rodriguez will be free to work through his issues.

The Nationals are sad to be leaving Coors Field

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Don’t look now, but the Nationals have the best record in baseball at 16-6. They’re coming off a 10-game road trip in which they went 9-1, including sweeps of the Braves and Mets and a 3-1 series against the Rockies at Coors Field. During that series with the Rockies, the Nationals scored 46 runs, which is nearly as many as the Royals (54) have scored all season long. The Nats scored double-digits in all three wins.

The first game at Coors, an 8-4 loss, saw a three-hit game from Anthony Rendon and a homer from Ryan Zimmerman.

The second game featured Trea Turner hitting for the cycle and driving in seven runs. Daniel Murphy had three hits and five RBI.

The third game saw Turner finish a triple short of the cycle. Bryce Harper had four hits. Zimmerman had three hits including a homer. Murphy homered, too.

The fourth game featured homers from Adam Eaton, Harper, and Murphy. Seven members of the lineup had multiple hits and six had multiple RBI including pitcher Gio Gonzalez.

The series helped the Nationals bring their run differential to +34, the best in the National League. The Yankees are the only team with a better differential at +35.

Indeed, the Nationals are sad to be leaving Coors Field. They return home to open up a three-game set with the ailing Mets on Friday night.