With the arrival of Gavin Floyd to the starting rotation, the Braves have decided to move Alex Wood to the bullpen, at least for now, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports. Wood will not make Sunday’s scheduled start. However, he will start a week from Saturday and will be available in the bullpen through Wednesday, O’Brien adds.
Wood, 23, posted a 3.00 ERA in seven starts spanning 45 innings. The Braves’ rotation, one through five, has been great though and no matter who was ousted, there would have been a bit of controversy.
Floyd, who underwent elbow surgery last May and had been recovering ever since, allowed one run in seven innings to the Cardinals in his 2014 debut on Tuesday. The Braves signed him to a one-year, $4 million deal in December.
The wave of defensive shifts we’ve seen over the past few years has led to a lot of armchair hitting coaches demanding that players bunt to beat it. This is easier said than done, however.
The shift happens because certain hitters tend to pull the ball. Certain hitters tend to pull the ball because pulling the ball is what happens when one gets a strong, quick swing on a pitch one identifies early and which one endeavors to send as far away from home plate as possible. Which is to say that pulling is a skill that is good to have and which is strongly selected for among hitters.
In light of that, “why not just bunt to beat the shift” takes are kind of lazy. Bunting is hard! And it is not a thing guys who get shifted a lot are good at. Most of the time asking a player to do a thing he is not well-equipped to do is a bad idea. Indeed, a hitter voluntarily going away from his strength is something the defense would much prefer.
Most of the time anyway.
Last night Matt Carpenter made those armchair hitting coaches happy by laying down a bunt to beat the shift. And he laid it down so well that he ended up with a standup double:
One batter later Carpenter scored on a Starlin Castro error.
The shift giveth and the shift taketh away.