Pirates looking into “mental component” of Pedro Alvarez’s throwing problems

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Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez’s throwing issues have gotten so bad–including an MLB-leading 21 of his 23 errors on throws–that Jenn Menendez of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette reports the team is starting to look into “the mental component to find the root of the problem.”

Alvarez has always been a poor defender at third base and eventually moving across the diamond to first base has long been discussed as a possibility. Prior to this season he committed 85 errors in 3,965 innings at third base, or one every 47 innings. This season he’s made an error every 34 innings. Ultimate Zone Rating pegs him as a career-worst 9.4 runs below average this year.

An easy solution would be moving Alvarez to first base, but a) the Pirates may not want to do that in the middle of a season, b) Ike Davis has been reasonably productive there since they acquired him from the Mets, and c) Alvarez’s current .707 OPS would look even worse at first base than it does at first base. They have to fix him defensively and, if they can’t, they have to decide if his 30-homer power is worth putting up with the low batting average, low on-base percentage, and tons of strikeouts from first base.

Clayton Kershaw struggles with control, walks six Marlins

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Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw entered Wednesday night’s start against the Marlins without having issued a walk in his previous three starts. In fact, his last walk came on April 3 when he issued a free pass to Paul Goldschmidt with the bases empty and two outs in the bottom of the first inning. All told, Kershaw was on a streak of 26 walk-less innings before he took the mound at home to take on the Marlins.

Kershaw started off Wednesday in character, striking out the side in the first inning. He issued a walk in a tough second inning, but escaped without allowing a run. Kershaw walked two more in the third and again danced out of danger. In the fourth, Kershaw walked Lewis Brinson to load the bases with no outs and — you guessed it — didn’t end up allowing a run. His errant control finally came back to bite him in the fifth when Kershaw issued back-to-back two-out walks, then served up a three-run home run to Miguel Rojas down the left field line. His night was done when he completed the inning. Five innings, three runs, five hits, six walks, seven strikeouts, 112 pitches.

The six walks Kershaw issued over five innings marked his first six-walk outing since April 7, 2010 when he issued six free passes to the Pirates in 4 2/3 innings. The only other time he walked as many was on August 3, 2009 against the Brewers in a four-plus inning outing. Kershaw hasn’t even walked five batters in an outing recently — the last time was September 23, 2012 against the Reds.