Brandon McCarthy tosses a four-hit shutout as the Yankees top the Astros

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This morning, in that Andy Martino story from the Daily News, Brandon McCarthy talked about how working as quickly as Mark Buehrle was unrealistic and that any pitching clocks should take his time to the plate, and add at least a few seconds. Guess he’s from the do-as-I-say-and-not-as-I-do camp, because that dude worked extremely quickly and extremely effectively today, beating the Astros 3-0 in a cool two hours, seven minutes. That’s even better than most Buehrle games.

And it wasn’t just fast, of course. It was crazy-effective. McCarthy needed just 107 pitches to shut the Astros out on four hits. He struck out eight and didn’t walk a batter. Seventy-nine of his 107 pitches were strikes. Do that and work fast and you pretty much moot any conversation about baseball dragging.

McCarthy is 5-2 with an ERA under two since coming over to the Yankees. A free agent after this season, his audition in the Bronx is likely to make him an awful lot of money.

The Nats want Trea Turner to attempt 75-80 stolen bases this year

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When it comes to cliche spring training stories, we talk a lot about “Best Shape of His Life.” Sometimes we talk about the “[Pitcher] has been working on a changeup” or “[Hitter] has made an adjustment to his swing” stories too. Then there’s the “we’re really going to focus on fundamentals” quotes managers love to give in February and March. They’re evergreens. 

Another one in that category is the “we’re going to run more” or “we plan to be aggressive on the base paths this year.” You hear that from at least one or two managers every spring. I imagine because, like the fundamentals one, it deals with something over which they have at least some moderate control. It’s a good quote.

We’re hearing it from Nats training camp this year with respect to one particularly speedy player in Trea Turner. From Mark Zuckerman at MASN:

Davey Martinez called Trea Turner into his office this week and told the speedy shortstop he wants him to attempt more stolen bases this season. How many? Let’s just say even the ultra-aggressive Turner was taken aback.

“Yeah, he gave me a number,” Turner said. “And I was like: ‘Wow, all right.’”

Martinez later revealed to assembled reporters that he thinks if Turner “attempts 75-80, we’ll be in great shape.”

Turner led the National League with 43 stolen bases on 52 attempts in 2018. The year before he attempted 54, which was his career high. Only only four players have attempted 80 or more stolen bases in the past ten years, so yes, 75-80 would be quite the escalation.

Which is not to say it’s silly. On a very basic level, yeah, if he is stealing bases more often, even without changing his basic approach, the Nats WILL be in great shape because it’ll likely mean that he’s on base more, and that’s good. If it’s merely a matter of him being more aggressive in the same number of times on base, well, let me know, but I’m not holding my breath.

I guess it’s nice to have goals, though.