Brian Wilson shouts at Giants CEO Larry Baer following Dodgers-Giants game

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Well this was bizarre. After the completion of last night’s Dodgers-Giants game, Dodgers setup man and former Giants closer Brian Wilson walked across the field to the box of Giants CE) Larry Baer and began shouting at him. Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com has the story:

“Just a conversation between me and him,” said Wilson, when I asked him what that was all about.

But as we told you first on CSNBayArea.com, Wilson was steamed that he still hasn’t received his 2012 World Series ring, and he was letting Baer know he wasn’t happy about it.

Baggarly spoke to Giants officials who are totally perplexed. Apparently they have tried to give the ring to Wilson on several occasions, but each time they have been rebuffed by Wilson’s people. Baggarly says Wilson has his ring now, as it was given to Dodgers officials to give to Wilson.

It was a weird year for Wilson, as he made a point to stay out of the public eye as he rehabbed his arm and, rather than try to make any deal with a team early on, waited until he was sure he could pitch before ultimately signing with the Dodgers. It was a good baseball move for him — he’s been lights out since he came back — but secreting himself up on some mountain with samurais or whatever also made him a hard man to reach, I figure.

So much drama, but there’s always drama around Wilson.

Justin Verlander changed his mechanics to prolong his career

Justin Verlander mechanics
Leslie Plaza Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
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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.