Stephen Strasburg shows that he is, in fact, human

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stephen strasburg headshot double-a.jpgWell, maybe he’s human. An alternative explanation is that, a day after learning that he was being promoted to AAA, he decided to mail one in the same way you mailed in that last Communications 220 exam after you already earned enough credits to graduate and had already been accepted to law school.

Strasburg gave up three earned runs — four total — on six
hits and three walks over 4.2 innings yesterday. The bad guys: the Altoona Curve, who he so deftly handled in his minor league debut last month.  Strasburg wasn’t hit particularly hard, with a couple of the runs following infield hits and bloop single kinds of things, but he struggled with the strike zone, which this game story suggests may have been a bit tight thanks to the home plate umpire.

But tough stuff. He’s going to get squeezed like crazy when he makes the bigs because, right or wrong, major league umpires make young pitchers earn the full extent of the strike zone through experience. Wait, that’s totally wrong and everyone knows it. Still happens though.

All of this makes Strasburg’s AAA debut more interesting, of course. Because now he must not only show that he can get more experienced hitters out, but he must show that he can shake off a bad day.

Pitch clock cut minor league games by 25 minutes to 2:38

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NEW YORK — Use of pitch clocks cut the average time of minor league games by 25 minutes this year, a reduction Major League Baseball hopes is replicated when the devices are installed in the big leagues next season.

The average time of minor league games dropped to 2 hours, 38 minutes in the season that ended Wednesday, according to the commissioner’s office. That was down from 3:03 during the 2021 season.

Clocks at Triple-A were set at 14 seconds with no runners on base and 19 with runners. At lower levels, the clocks were at 18 seconds with runners.

Big league nine-inning games are averaging 3:04 this season.

MLB announced on Sept. 9 that clocks will be introduced in the major leagues next year at 15 seconds with no runners and 20 seconds with runners, a decision opposed by the players’ association.

Pitchers are penalized a ball for violating the clock. In the minors, violations decreased from an average of 1.73 per game in the second week to 0.41 in week 24.

There will be a limit of two pickoff attempts or stepoffs per plate appearance, a rule that also was part of the minor league experiment this season. A third pickoff throw that is not successful would result in a balk.

Stolen bases increased to an average of 2.81 per game from 2.23 in the minors this year and the success rate rose to 78% from 68%.

Many offensive measurements were relatively stable: runs per team per game increased to 5.13 from 5.11 and batting average to .249 from .247.

Plate appearances resulting in home runs dropped to 2.7% from 2.8%, strikeouts declined to 24.4% from 25.4% and walks rose to 10.5% from 10.2%. Hit batters remained at 1.6%.