Outside strikes to lefties are becoming a problem

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Our Blue Jays commenters are fit to be tied today due to the called strikes to Melky Cabrera in the ninth inning of last night’s Jays-Rays game. Strikes one and three to Melky were clearly outside. Here’s Brooks Baseball’s plot of the at bat:

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Pitch one and three were called strikes, pitch two was fouled off. It’s not unlikely that Cabrera felt he had to swing at that due to the call on the first pitch.

Cliff Corcoran pointed this out at SI this morning. And noted that it’s not an isolated incident. There are a ton of outside-the-zone calls being made against left-handed hitters. What’s more, the increase in strikeouts this year is being driven largely by called third strikes, not swinging strikes.

Are the umps setting up poorly and missing the outside corner? Are they, as they have been wont to do over baseball history, just deciding to call certain things in new ways all of a sudden?  Do we have a bizarro Tom Glavine situation at work here?

Félix Hernández to rejoin Mariners’ rotation for final start of 2018

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Mariners starter Félix Hernández will come off of the disabled list to make his final start of 2018 on Wednesday against the Athletics, MLB.com’s Greg Johns reports. Hernández has been on the disabled list since September 8 with a right hamstring strain.

Hernández, 32, has endured the worst season of his 14-year career. He’s 8-13 with a 5.46 ERA and a 121/57 K/BB ratio over 151 2/3 innings. Hernández wants the opportunity to finish 2018 on a good note. He said, “I feel good. No problems. It’s 100 percent. I just want to finish strong and show them I can still pitch. It wasn’t a big injury. They just wanted to give me some rest.”

Hernández is under contract for one more year at $27 million. He has been the face of the franchise for the last decade, but if he doesn’t show he’s capable of beating major league hitters by the end of spring training next year, the Mariners may not be able to afford to give him a spot in the starting rotation. Despite a second-half slide, the Mariners were competitive in the AL West this year, entering the All-Star break 58-39, five games out of first place. With some roster fine-tuning, the Mariners could give the Astros and Athletics a run for their money. Hernández’s involvement with that effort remains to be seen.