Mariano Rivera to Drew Storen: “You don’t need my cutter”

4 Comments

Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post put together an in-depth look at Drew Storen’s late-season turnaround. It’s a great read, chock full of charts and stats, but perhaps the most interesting part came in the opening paragraph.

Drew Storen had the privilege of meeting Mariano Rivera. Knowing such an opportunity is fleeting, Storen asked Rivera if he could impart wisdom on throwing the cut fastball, the pitch that Rivera lived on for 17 years as the game’s best closer. Rivera sagely replied, “You don’t need my cutter.”

More, via Kilgore:

“Right away, he goes, ‘You don’t need it,’ ” Storen said over the phone Thursday morning, as he drove to a workout in his hometown Indianapolis. “ ‘You got 43 saves at the big league level. You don’t need my cutter.’ I’m like, ‘Oh, okay.’ He goes, ‘You got everything you need. If you make the most of what makes you successful, then you’ll be successful.’ ”

Storen posted a 5.95 ERA through the end of July, prompting a two-week demotion to Triple-A Syracuse. Kilgore writes that, while in Syracuse, Storen changed his delivery to include a quick leg kick, and he changed his arm slot. While his results in Triple-A were not any better, the Nationals called him back up in mid-August. From August 16 through the end of the season, Storen posted a 1.40 ERA. The most staggering change was that he did not allow a home run in 19.1 innings compared to allowing seven in 42.1 innings prior to his demotion.

It is a small sample size with which to work, but the evidence seems to point to Storen having changed for the better. Still, it’d be nice to get the recipe to Rivera’s cutter. It couldn’t hurt.

Sign-stealing penalties could be ‘unlike anything seen in the sport’s recent history’

Getty Images
10 Comments

Early this morning we learned that Major League Baseball was planning to talk to former Astros Carlos Beltrán and Alex Cora as part of the sign-stealing investigation. Late this morning Jeff Passan of ESPN reported that the investigation is, actually, going to go much wider than that.

Passan reports that Major League Baseball will not limit its focus to the 2017 Astros, who were the subject of the report in The Athletic on Tuesday. Rather, it will also include members of the 2019 Astros and will extend to other teams as well. Passan specifically mentions the 2018 Red Sox which, of course, were managed by Alex Cora one year after he left Houston, where he was A.J. Hinch’s bench coach.

Oh, it also includes recently-fired Astros assistant general manager Brandon Taubman, who the league plans to interview but who, Passan says, has hired a lawyer. Which is sort of interesting in its own right, but let’s stay on topic.

Passan:

The league is attempting to cull tangible evidence from the widespread paranoia of front offices and teams around the game about others cheating and has indicated it will consider levying long suspensions against interviewees who are found to have lied, sources said . . . The penalties for illegal activity are determined by commissioner Rob Manfred, though if the league can prove wrongdoing, the severity could be unlike anything seen in the sport’s recent history, sources said.

The Cardinals were fined $2 million when an employee, Chris Correa, hacked the Astros computer system. Correa, of course, was permanently banned from baseball and served prison time. Former Braves GM John Coppolella was likewise given a permanent ban for lying about the team’s circumvention of international signing rules. If Passan’s source is right and the league is going to level heavy penalties here, that’s where you have to start, I imagine.

To me, the stuff about Coppolella’s lying and the bit about interviewees lying mentioned in the block quote is key.

Will anyone have the hammer brought down upon them for being responsible for stealing signs? Hard to say. But they likely will if they are not forthcoming with league investigators. Which is actually a pretty decent way to handle things when one is conducting an internal investigation. Maybe you don’t give amnesty to wrongdoers in the name of information-gathering, but you do signal to them that cooperation is incentivized and lack of cooperation will be punished.

It’s an approach, by the way, that Major League Baseball notably did not take in the course of its PED investigations a decade ago. That led to a final report that had massive gaps in information and caused the league to focus on and publicize only the lowest-hanging fruit. As I argued at the time, if information-gathering, as opposed to P.R. considerations was its true aim, MLB would’ve handled it differently.

In the early stages here, in contrast, it does sound like baseball is taking this seriously. That’s a good thing.