Mariners release Todd Coffey

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Three months ago Todd Coffey signed a minor-league contract with the Mariners as part of his comeback from Tommy John elbow surgery, but now Seattle has released the 34-year-old reliever from Triple-A.

Coffey certainly pitched well enough at Triple-A to get a September call-up, posting a 1.93 ERA and 34/16 K/BB ratio in 37 innings while saving 11 games for Tacoma.

He hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012, but from 2009-2012 he had a combined 3.76 ERA in 225 innings. Some team could use him in a middle relief role for 2015, if only so their fans can see the hefty righty sprint in from the bullpen for every appearance.

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.