Must-click link: the vanishing screwball

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Screwballers are all but extinct. Their fire has gone out of the universe. Hector Santiago, my friend, is all that’s left of their religion.

Bruce Schoenfeld of the New York Times Magazine investigates the screwballers today. He talks to Santiago, past practitioners of the dark, screwballing art and tries to find out why the pitch is almost entirely a relic of history these days.

He also reminds us that the screwball made and resurrected a whole host of pitching careers:

When Carl Hubbell was released by the Tigers in 1928, he went to a minor-league team in Beaumont, Tex., perfected the screwball, then won 253 games for the Giants. Warren Spahn began using the pitch in 1956, at 34, with a career that appeared to be winding down. He recorded six more 20-victory seasons for the Braves. After going 4-19 from 1965 to 1967, Tug McGraw remade himself as a screwballer and pitched until 1984. “The screwball has saved a lot of pitchers,” says Ron Swoboda, a former teammate of McGraw’s. “When Tug found it, he found gold.”

Will anyone else find gold like that? It seems doubtful, as there there is now a widespread belief that the screwball is hard on the arm and thus opens pitchers up to injuries. But is this belief well-founded or is it, like so many other baseball beliefs, based on nothing more than gut feeling and received wisdom?

Schoenfeld investigated and got a pretty good answer. Click through to read the article and find out if there is an actual medical reason why we see so few screwballers these days.

Collin McHugh headed to injured list with elbow discomfort

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Astros starter Collin McHugh will be placed on the 10-day injured list due to discomfort in his right elbow, Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle reports. The Astros recalled Brady Rodgers from Triple-A Round Rock.

McHugh, 31, has struggled to a 6.04 ERA with a 48/16 K/BB ratio in 44 2/3 innings across eight starts and two relief appearances. If the elbow injury is really an elbow injury and not just an excuse for the Astros to give McHugh a reprieve, this could be bad news.

Rodgers, 28, posted a 3.22 ERA with 32 strikeouts and 16 walks in 44 2/3 innings in the minors this season. He had a cup of coffee with the Astros in 2016, yielding 14 runs in 8 1/3 innings. Here’s hoping his latest stint goes a bit better than that.