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Games are slower, in part, because of pitcher velocity


Recently, in the wake of Noah Syndergaard‘s injury, we talked about velocity and the maximal effort exerted by pitchers in throwing each pitch. We talked about how, simply as a matter of observation, pitchers seem to take longer between pitches, in part to maximize the energy available. About how we hear them talk about “executing pitches” all the time, with each of the 90-100 pitches they make each game being treated like an individual performance, each of which can be judged as successful or not.

Today at FiveThirtyEight, Rob Arthur puts some numbers to all of that and concludes, not surprisingly, that there is a pretty strong correlation between the dramatic uptick in velocity we’ve seen over the past decade or so and the length of games, which has grown longer over that time. Seems that, yep, pitchers are taking longer precisely because doing so gives them extra ticks on the radar gun.

Indeed, Arthur finds that for every additional second pitchers take between pitches, they throw about .02 miles per hour harder. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but as Arthur demonstrates, each little bit adds up. Those seconds, over 100-150 pitchers per team per game add up in time, obviously. And, based on past research Arthur cites regarding the correlation between pitcher velocity and pitcher effectiveness, those miles per hour add up in terms of team wins.

All of which adds some spice to the whole game length/game pace debate. We’d all like to see things move along more quickly, but doing so will likely impact player effectiveness, which will in turn make it harder to get teams and players to agree to measures designed to speed things up.

Jeff Samardzija to undergo MRI on right shoulder

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Giants starter Jeff Samardzija will undergo an MRI on his ailing right shoulder, according to NBC Sports Bay Area. The right-hander struggled in a minor league game on Wednesday, surrendering a pair of home runs and hitting a batter. Overall this spring, Samardzija has given up 15 runs (13 earned) on 17 hits (six homers) and seven walks with seven strikeouts in 11 innings.

This may mean Samardzija won’t be ready for the start of the regular season. Derek Holland would likely replace Samardzija in the rotation. Holland had been competing for the No. 5 spot in the Giants’ rotation.

Samardzija led the National League in losses last season with 15, also posting a 4.42 ERA with a 205/32 K/BB ratio in a league-high 207 2/3 innings. Since becoming a starter, Samardzija has been able to avoid injury, making 32 or 33 starts in each of the last five seasons.