Jeff Zimmerman of Fan Graphs crunched the numbers on the umpiring crew assigned to the World Series, using Pitch-F/X data along with strikeout and walk rates to rank the six umpires from most pitcher-friendly to most hitter-friendly:
Hirschbeck, who in addition to being pitcher-friendly is also the crew chief, will be calling balls and strikes in Game 1 and, if the series goes the distance, Game 7 as well.
Zimmerman delved even deeper into the data, breaking out “heat maps” for each umpire’s strike zone for right-handed hitters and left-handed hitters. The whole thing is definitely worth checking out, but I’ll quote this one bit of analysis: “At least none of these umpires are at the extreme ends of the strike zone spectrum. Compared to the previous playoff series … this crew’s strike zone should be one of the more consistent ones.”
Barring physicals and roster reshuffling, the Yankees and Reds are all but ready to finalize a deal involving right-hander Sonny Gray, Fancred’s Jon Heyman reported Saturday. The exact return has not been confirmed, but Heyman hears that the Yankees will receive top infield prospect Shed Long and a draft pick in exchange for Gray, with an as-yet unnamed third player possibly involved as well.
According to several reports earlier in the day, negotiations came down to the wire as the Yankees first had their eye on the Reds’ no. 6 prospect, 22-year-old catcher Tyler Stephenson. The Reds ultimately elected to hang on to Stephenson and send Long to New York, as they currently have a greater need for catching depth and weren’t expected to be able to provide a full-time role for the infielder in 2019. Long, 23, is ranked seventh in the Reds’ system and appears to be nearing his MLB debut after batting .261/.353/.412 with 12 homers and a .765 OPS across 522 PA at Double-A Pensacola last year.
Gray figures to step into a prominent role within the Reds’ rotation, which is likely to be a mix of recently-acquired left-hander Alex Wood and right-handers Tanner Roark, Luis Castillo, Anthony DeSclafani, and Tyler Mahle, among several others. Despite Gray’s struggle to remain productive on the mound — he’s three years removed from his only All-Star campaign and turned in a disappointing 4.90 ERA and 2.16 SO/BB rate in 2018 — he might yet help stabilize a team that trotted out the fifth-worst rotation in the majors last season. If, on the other hand, the veteran righty finds the hitter-friendly confines of Great American Ball Park a little too unforgiving this year, the Reds can take some comfort in the fact that he’s due to enter free agency in 2020.