Bill Baer

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Trea Turner suffers non-displaced fracture in right wrist

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The Nationals suffered two big losses on Thursday afternoon against the Cubs. The bullpen blew a late lead and the team lost 5-4, and shortstop Trea Turner suffered a non-displaced fracture in his right wrist, Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post reports. Turner was hit by a Pedro Strop fastball in the bottom of the seventh inning. He initially stayed in the game but was removed in the ninth inning.

Turner went 1-for-2 with a walk and two stolen bases before exiting. He’s hitting .279/.324/.422 with seven home runs, 32 RBI, 53 runs scored, and 35 stolen bases (best in the majors) in 315 plate appearances. As there’s as yet no timetable for Turner’s return, the Nationals will have to find a solution for the leadoff spot for the foreseeable future. Stephen Drew and Wilmer Difo will handle shortstop while Turner is absent.

Turner, 23, finished second in NL Rookie of the Year balloting last season and while his offense wasn’t quite up to last year’s standards, he was on pace to steal 72 bases. Jacoby Ellsbury in 2009 was the last player to steal 70-plus bases.

Report: Mets will consider bringing back Bartolo Colon

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44-year-old veteran starter Bartolo Colon was designated for assignment by the Braves on Thursday afternoon. Colon struggled over 13 starts, going 2-8 with an 8.14 ERA and a 42/20 K/BB ratio in 63 innings.

Despite the ugly stats, as soon as news of Colon’s departure from Atlanta went live, Mets fans went bananas. Colon is something of a cult hero in Queens, as he was a solid member of the starting rotation for the past three years. He posted a solid 3.90 ERA across 95 starts and three relief appearances as a Met. Of course, he also earned adulation from fans for having an atypical body type and for being relatively old for a productive major league player.

Although the Mets are skeptical about Colon’s performance this season, the club will still consider bringing him back, MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo reports.

Colon’s peripherals certainly don’t suggest that his 8.14 ERA is representative of his skill level, but there isn’t any reason to believe that he can pitch the way he has in the past. His walk rate this season is 6.7 percent, nearly three percent higher than it was last year and nearly four percent higher than it was in 2015. Aside from the very early 2000’s, Colon has never been a strikeout pitcher, but his 14.1 percent strikeout rate this season is the lowest it has been since 2009.

That being said, the Mets’ pitching is all banged up. The simple fact that Colon could reliably take the ball every five games and give them five or six innings has to be appealing.

Many pitchers believe that the baseball has been “juiced”

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Earlier, Craig wrote about another study that concluded that the baseballs have, in fact, been altered which has increased the rate at which players have been hitting home runs. Major League Baseball has maintained that there have been no nefarious changes.

Pitchers sound pretty confident that the ball has indeed been altered. Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports spoke to some pitchers. Red Sox starter David Price said that the ball has been altered, “One hundred percent. We have all talked about it.”

Mets pitching coach Dan Warthen said, “I’m getting the same feedback” from pitchers. “It’s the balls,” he said. “They’re throwing harder with it, but they’re getting less movement, so they’re just hanging there.”

Marlins reliever Brad Ziegler said, “There’s just something different about the baseballs. I don’t have anything to quantify it, but the balls just don’t feel the same. It just feels different to me, a little harder, tighter than the past.”

According to Mets reliever Jerry Blevins, “It just feels like there’s been a lot of home runs being hit by guys who normally don’t hit them, or by guys who normally don’t him them where they hit them. I’ve seen so many home runs that just don’t look normal. Even at our place, (pitcher) Jake deGrom hit an opposite-field homer. I mean, he’s a good hitter, but oppo power at Citi Field? You normally don’t see that by anybody.”

Chris Archer brought some science into his explanation. “I’m staying away from my candid thoughts but I know this for a fact: Triple-A balls travel 30 less feet than the major league ball, with the same exit velocity and launch angle. It’s wound differently in the minor leagues, which has an effect on your breaking ball, the movement of your fastball, with how the ball carries off the bat. Bellinger, he didn’t showcase this kind of power (in the minor leagues) because a fly ball to the warning track is now a homer.”

There are plenty more quotes in Nightengale’s column.

The evidence certainly seems damning. However, it is important to note that pitchers, of course, are biased. It behooves pitchers to push the “juiced ball” theory for two reasons: it helps them explain poor performance without taking personal responsibility, and it could lead to the ball being altered back to being pitcher-friendly. A pitcher trying to secure a lucrative free agent contract may say, when his poor 2017 performance is noted, that it was entirely due to the “juiced” baseball. And, in unison, pitchers backing the “juiced ball” theory publicly may put pressure on Major League Baseball to balance the baseball, so to speak.