Report: MLB likely to adjust rules for plays at home and transfer catches

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While expanded instant replay in MLB has had some missteps in the early going, it has been an overwhelming positive for the most part. However, confusion remains about the new home plate collision rule and the new interpretation of the transfer rule. And it looks like something is going to be done about it soon.

FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal has the story:

The first, at minimum, would be a guideline in which catchers will be asked to give the runner a lane to the plate in their initial positioning, further reducing the possibility of collisions at home plate.

The second would be a less strict interpretation of the transfer rule, in which umpires would rule on catches the way they did in the past, using more of a common-sense approach rather than following the letter of the law.

Officials from the union met with MLB executives earlier this week to voice their displeasure over what constitutes a catch now that baseball has expanded instant replay, sources said.

Both sides agreed that certain plays are being called incorrectly, and MLB officials will seek to clarify what constitutes a catch in a conference call with members of the umpires union early next week, sources said.

It’s refreshing to hear, as both rules have been major sources of frustration this season and obviously need some clarification and/or tweaking. We have seen multiple instances of catchers seemingly blocking the plate without being called for doing so and the changes to the transfer rule are simply counterintuitive. By the way, here’s the latest example of the transfer rule in action.

Kudos to all involved for making it a priority to accomplish some clarity in the near future. We can’t have this level of confusion linger into the postseason.

Dusty Baker expects Stephen Strasburg to make his next scheduled start

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Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg lasted only two innings in Sunday’s start against the Diamondbacks. The right-hander reportedly had trouble getting loose and it showed: he yielded a hit and three walks to the 10 batters he faced. According to Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post, Strasburg had “some nerve impingement that has been alleviated.”

Manager Dusty Baker expects Strasburg to make his next scheduled start on Saturday at home against the Rockies, Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post reports. Strasburg was examined by doctors, who deemed him to be in good shape — enough to not warrant undergoing an MRI.

Through 20 starts, Strasburg owns a 3.25 ERA with a 141/37 K/BB ratio across 121 2/3 innings. Though the injury scare isn’t what the Nationals hoped for, he’s done well in the first year of his seven-year, $175 million contract extension.

John Lackey hit four White Sox batters today

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Cubs starter John Lackey didn’t have his best stuff on Tuesday afternoon at Wrigley Field against the White Sox. The right-hander hit four White Sox batters over the course of five innings. He yielded just two runs, though, on five hits and two walks with five strikeouts. He left with a 4-2 lead.

Lackey hit Jose Abreu with one out in the first inning, then hit Abreu again in the fifth. He then hit Matt Davidson and Yoan Moncada shortly thereafter. Chris Beck relieved Carlos Rodon for the White Sox in the bottom of the fifth and promptly hit Ian Happ with a fastball to lead off the frame. Home plate umpire Lance Barksdale issued warnings to both benches and the beanings stopped.

So, how often do pitchers hit four batters in a game? Not that often! The last to do it was the Reds’ Josh Smith on July 4, 2015 against the Brewers. Before that, it was the Nationals’ Livan Hernandez on July 20, 2005 against the Rockies. Lackey is only the ninth pitcher to hit four batters in a game since 2000 and the 26th since 1913. The only other Cubs pitcher to do it besides Lackey was Moe Drabowsky in 1957.