Cliff Lee throws complete game as Mets and Twins reportedly emerge as trade talk 'frontrunners'

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Cliff Lee was brilliant again last night as rumors continue to swirl about his time in Seattle winding down, holding the Cubs to one run in a complete-game victory that lowered his ERA to a league-best 2.39.
Lee missed most of April, yet leads the league with four complete games (including two shutouts) and has an absolutely ridiculous 76/4 K/BB ratio in 87 innings. To put that into some context Bret Saberhagen holds the all-time record with 11.0 strikeouts per walk in 1994 and no other pitcher in baseball history who qualified for the ERA title ever had 10 strikeouts per walk.
Right now Lee has 19.0 strikeouts per walk.
Obviously the Mariners didn’t plan on being 30-41 and all but out of the playoff picture in June, but the good news is that Lee has maintained his full trade value and then some. Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times reports that the Mets and Twins are the front-runners for Lee at this point, speculating that Minnesota has the potential edge in the form of Wilson Ramos because Seattle wants a good catching prospect.
Baker notes that Ramos “could make a centerpiece to a deal along with a mid-to-back-end starting pitcher” that would presumably be Scott Baker or Kevin Slowey. He also wonders if the Mets could trump that by offering Jenrry Mejia and Angel Pagan. Of course, a report out of New York yesterday said the Mets were unlikely to deal Mejia.

Matt Carpenter hit a standup bunt double

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The wave of defensive shifts we’ve seen over the past few years has led to a lot of armchair hitting coaches demanding that players bunt to beat it. This is easier said than done, however.

The shift happens because certain hitters tend to pull the ball. Certain hitters tend to pull the ball because pulling the ball is what happens when one gets a strong, quick swing on a pitch one identifies early and which one endeavors to send as far away from home plate as possible. Which is to say that pulling is a skill that is good to have and which is strongly selected for among hitters.

In light of that, “why not just bunt to beat the shift” takes are kind of lazy. Bunting is hard! And it is not a thing guys who get shifted a lot are good at. Most of the time asking a player to do a thing he is not well-equipped to do is a bad idea. Indeed, a hitter voluntarily going away from his strength is something the defense would much prefer.

Most of the time anyway.

Last night Matt Carpenter made those armchair hitting coaches happy by laying down a bunt to beat the shift. And he laid it down so well that he ended up with a standup double:

One batter later Carpenter scored on a Starlin Castro error.

The shift giveth and the shift taketh away.