Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto

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This is fun reading, but I can’t wait for the “this is a sabermetrician’s wet dream” cracks from old media:

Look out Ichiro Suzuki and Daisuke Matsuzaka. A pair of
baseball-playing robots that can pitch and hit with incredible results
have been developed in Japan.

The pitching robot, with its three-fingered hand, can throw 90
percent of its pitches in the strike zone, won’t need any relief from
the bullpen and never asks for a pay raise. The batting robot, which
has a sensor to determine if pitches are strikes or balls, hits balls
in the strike zone almost 100 percent of the time, doesn’t swing at
pitches outside the strike zone, and is guaranteed to pass all drug
tests.

But here’s the best part:

The pitching robot throws a plastic foam ball at 25 miles per hour,
but Ishikawa is hoping to increase the speed to 93 mph and make it able
to throw off-speed pitches like curves and sliders.

Hopefully he’ll have better luck with the robots than Leo Mazzone did with Daniel Cabrera.

Zack Cozart thinks the way the Rays have been using Sergio Romo is bad for baseball

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The Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.

In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.

The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.

Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”

It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.

It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.