John Lackey has beer in the clubhouse, so apparently the Sox have given up

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Joe Haggerty of CSNNE.com believes that the Red Sox have given up and the season is lost.

I don’t know that that’s true. While things seem bleak, the race for the wild card is still tight enough that a week’s worth of good fortune could totally transform things.

But for a moment, let’s pretend that the season is definitively over.  Even if that were the case, can someone tell me how this translates to giving up?

Like John Lackey, who apparently needs to travel with the team and work with trainer Mike Reinold while recovering from Tommy John surgery – a fairly standard rehab that literally thousands of pitchers have come back from stronger-than-ever over the last 30 years. But for whatever reason, the underachieving righty needs to travel with the team even though he won’t be throwing even one measly pitch for them.

Lackey was so busted up after the latest defeat that he was strutting around the clubhouse with a can of Bud Light in each hand, or what is known as “double-fisting” on every college campus in the history of mankind. So much for the Bobby Valentine ban on alcohol in the Sox clubhouse that was implemented during spring training.

1. Bobby V. owns a bar. I go to it on occasion, and they have a lot of really good beer there. In light of that, I’m going to assume that Valentine realizes that Bud Light does not actually qualify as alcohol, so he likely does not consider this to be a violation of the policy.

2. Since when is traveling with the team when you’re injured a sign of a lack of dedication and commitment?  Usually guys get slammed for staying away from the team. This line of attack on Lackey and the Sox totally baffles me.

But hey, it’s the Red Sox. And it’s apparently utterly impossible to see anything that happens with that team in either a positive or at least a neutral light.

Justin Verlander changed his mechanics to prolong his career

Justin Verlander mechanics
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Last week, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reported that Astros starter and reigning AL Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander changed his mechanics in order to prolong his career. Specifically, Verlander lowered his release point from 7’2″ to 6’5″.

As Brooks Baseball shows, Verlander drastically altered his release point after being traded to the Astros from the Tigers on August 31, 2017. The change resulted in a huge bump in his strikeout rate. Verlander’s strikeout rate ranged between 16% and 27.4% with the Tigers, mostly settling in the 23-25% range. With The Tigers through the first five months of 2017, Verlander struck out 24.1% of batters. In the final month with the Astros, he struck out 35.8% of batters. He then maintained that rate over the entire 2018 and ’19 seasons with respective rates of 34.8% and 35.4%. Just as impressively, the release point also resulted in fewer walks. His walk rate ranged from 5.9% to 9.9% with the Tigers but was 4.4% and 5.0% the last two seasons with the Astros.

Verlander finished a runner-up in 2018 AL Cy Young Award balloting to Blake Snell before edging out teammate Gerrit Cole for the award last season. Despite the immense success, Verlander described his mechanics as unsustainable. Per The Athletic’s Jake Kaplan, Verlander said, “I changed a lot of stuff that some people would think was unnecessary. But I thought it was necessary, especially if I want to play eight, 10 more years.”

Verlander is 37 years old, so 10 more seasons would put him into Jamie Moyer territory. Moyer, who consistently ranked among baseball’s softest-tossing pitchers, pitched 25 seasons in the majors from 1986-2012.  He threw 111 2/3 innings with the Phillies in 2010 at the age of 47 and 53 2/3 innings with the Rockies in 2012 at 49. But aside from Moyer and, more recently, Bartolo Colon, it’s exceedingly rare for pitchers to extend their careers into their 40’s, let alone their mid- and late-40’s.

The Astros have Verlander under contract through 2021. The right-hander will have earned close to $300 million. He’s won a World Series, a Rookie of the Year Award, an MVP Award, two Cy Youngs, and has been an eight-time All-Star. Verlander could retire after 2021 and would almost certainly be a first-ballot Hall of Famer in 2027. That he continues to tweak his mechanics in order to pitch for another decade speaks to his highly competitive nature.