Play Clock

A pitch clock in Major League Baseball? No thanks.

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Andy Martino of the Daily News writes today about the possibility of a pitch clock — an actual clock counting down the seconds — being added to the game in order to speed things up. There is some support for it, he says, and runs down the pros and cons. He notes that Tom Werner — who spoke out on this issue the other day — prefers a pitch clock to other options.

One of those options, as we noted the other day, is simply enforcing Rule 8.04 and Rule 6.02, requiring the pitcher to throw the ball in a timely manner and requiring the batter to stay in the batters box between pitches. Martino talks to Yankees pitcher Brandon McCarthy about that, and McCarthy notes that the 12 seconds allowed in Rule 6.02 may be extreme. He may very well have a point there, and perhaps changing that rule to, like, 18 seconds and enforcing it is more realistic than 12, but at least it’s a rule with a pedigree and a place to start that does not require radical change.

But as we’ve noted a lot recently, baseball seems to be taken with the idea of adding unnecessary rules and unnecessary components of new rules these days. They felt the All-Star Game wasn’t holding people’s interest? They made it decide home field advantage in the World Series. They felt they had a problem with small market teams not being able to compete? Rather than give them money or draft picks, they put them in a lottery. They felt they had a problem with calls being missed? Rather than simply solve that with a straightforward replay system that would allow umpires to correct their own mistakes, they added an unnecessary manager’s challenge. They felt they had a problem with catchers getting hurt on plate collisions? They made a new rule rather than enforcing existing rules about when catchers can and cannot block the plate. The shortest distance between two points is a straight line, but baseball has been a big fan of 90 degree turns and long arcs these days.

Which is a shorter way of saying: get used to the idea a little box with a ticking down clock in the corner of your baseball broadcast, because that sort of thing seems way more in character with baseball’s problem-solving approach lately than, you know, actually solving the problem in the most efficient and least-intrusive possible manner.

What’s on Tap: Previewing Thursday’s action

HOUSTON, TX - JULY 02:  Chris Sale #49 of the Chicago White Sox pitches in the first inning against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on July 2, 2016 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
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White Sox ace Chris Sale will return after serving his team-issued five-game suspension. He’ll take on the Cub’s John Lackey in an 8:05 PM EDT start at Wrigley Field.

The lefty protested wearing throwback uniforms, which featured collars, this past weekend. He reportedly got into a shouting match with White Sox coaches and front office staff, and took a knife to his uniform as well as those of his teammates. GM Rick Hahn punished Sale for three offenses: violating team rules, insubordination, and destroying team equipment.

Sale apologized to fans as well as to the bullpen, which had to pick him up when he was scratched from Saturday’s start. But he didn’t apologize for standing up for what he believed in.

This isn’t Sale’s first conflict with the White Sox organization. He was part of the spring training Drake LaRoche controversy. He also was part of the club’s recent protest against the Mariners’ policy that siphoned money from clubhouse attendants. As a result of what appears to be a contentious relationship between Sale and the White Sox, many think the club will trade him if they get an enticing offer. Pitchers like Sale, however, are tough to find, and he could be under team control through 2019 if the White Sox pick up his ’18 and ’19 club options.

Sale enters Thursday’s start leading the majors with 14 wins as well as a 3.18 ERA and a 129/29 K/BB ratio in 133 innings. Could it be his last start as a member of the White Sox?

The rest of Thursday’s action…

Baltimore Orioles (Ubaldo Jimenez) @ Minnesota Twins (Kyle Gibson), 7:10 PM EDT

Philadelphia Phillies (Aaron Nola) @ Atlanta Braves (Matt Wisler), 7:10 PM EDT

St. Louis Cardinals (Michael Wacha) @ Miami Marlins (Jose Fernandez), 7:10 PM EDT

Kansas City Royals (Yordano Ventura) @ Texas Rangers (Cole Hamels), 8:05 PM EDT

Boston Red Sox (David Price) @ Los Angeles Angels (Jered Weaver), 10:05 PM EDT

Washington Nationals (Tanner Roark) @ San Francisco Giants (Johnny Cueto), 10:15 PM EDT

Report: The Diamondbacks are on the verge of trading Daniel Hudson

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Steve Gilbert of MLB.com reports that the Arizona Diamondbacks are close to trading Daniel Hudson. It’s not yet known who the trading partner would be, but obviously a number of teams are in the market for bullpen help.

Trading Hudson seemed like a good idea for a while, but he’s been on a terrible skid lately, with his ERA exploding by nearly three full runs in the past month. It now stands at 6.08, with Hudson having given up 22 earned runs in 16 and a third innings in June and July. The bad stretch has appeared to result in some frustration for Hudson. The other day he took to Twitter to describe his recent performance, calling the last month “brutal” and “absolutely awful.” He said this has “been one of the most frustrating stretch of games I’ve ever experienced in my life.” Then he deactivated his Twitter account.

Despite his recent struggles, and despite his checkered injury history, Hudson has been durable the past two seasons, pitching in 64 games last year and 42 so far this season. If this stretch is just that, a temporary skid, Hudson could help someone.