Report: Martin Perez will have Tommy John surgery

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The Rangers announced yesterday that left-hander Martin Perez was diagnosed with a partially-torn ulnar collateral ligament in his throwing elbow. According to Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News, Martin told Venezuelan publication Lavinotinto that he will join the long list of pitchers to have Tommy John surgery this year:

According to Marcus Grunfeld of the publication, Perez said he and his agent will decide on Friday when to have the surgery to repair a partially torn ligament.

Perez also had the option of trying to return after a rehabilitation period of 10 to 12 weeks.

“Having an operation is the most convenient thing,” Perez said, according to Lavinotinto.

Perez, who signed a four-year, $12.5 million extension over the winter, figures to be sidelined through the early part of the 2015 season. Matt Harrison has a displacement of a verterba in his back and is no sure thing to even pitch again, so the Rangers continue to face big challenges in their starting rotation. On the positive side of things, Nick Tepesch pitched well yesterday against the Astros and Derek Holland is getting closer to returning from knee surgery.

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.