The strike zone is getting really, really big

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In the 90s there was a lot of talk about the strike zone expanding to the right and left, especially for pitchers like Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux who could consistently hit points outside of the zone and convince umpires to give them those calls as a result of that consistency.

But overall, the zone was a lot smaller then. The offensive numbers certainly bear that out as both the high strike and the low strike all but disappeared and hitters could crush anyone who couldn’t paint those corners (or just outside those corners) like Glavine and Maddux.

The wide zone doesn’t exist now like it used to. Most attribute that to Pitchf/x, which Major League Baseball has used to grade umpires over the years. They’ve been called out on that leniency and have called a more accurate zone, laterally speaking.

But boy howdy, it has grown vertically. As Jon Roegele demonstrates at The Hardball Times, the zone has grown and grown significantly, and it more than anything else is what has led to the low offensive environment and lack of contact we see in today’s game:

The average strike zone size increased by 16 square inches in 2014 over 2013, growing the zone to a robust 40 square inches larger than just five seasons prior. In the previous articles we discussed how the zone has actually been squeezing in at the sides slightly, but is stretching like crazy down from the knees as if it is under the clutches of gravity. (And like Radiohead said in Fake Plastic Trees, gravity always wins.)

This is the sort of thing that leads to the league, however silently, making adjustments. Formally redefining the zone or leaning on umpires to informally change things. Possibly, as definitely happened in the National League in the 1930s and many people suspect happened in 1987 and 1993, juicing the baseball.

Cardinals’ bullpen loses combined no-hit bid with two outs in the eighth inning

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Update (10:04 PM EST): Orlando Arcia reached on a fielding error by DeJong. Gallegos bounced back, inducing weak fly outs from Ryan Braun and Trent Grisham. Yasmani Grandal ended the dream, yanking a double down the right field line.

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Cardinals starter Dakota Hudson flirted a no-hitter, but was unable to make it through the seventh inning. The right-hander kept the Brewers hitless through 6 2/3 innings on Monday evening at Busch Stadium, striking out six and walking four on 111 pitches. Hudson’s career-high was 112 pitches, so it was not surprising to see manager Mike Shildt take Hudson out of the game after a two-out walk to Eric Thames. Giovanny Gallegos entered the game and got Ben Gamel to ground out to end the inning.

Hudson, 24, entered the night 11-6 with a 3.82 ERA and a 97/59 K/BB ratio in 127 1/3 innings.

The Cardinals provided Hudson three runs of support. Kolten Wong knocked in a run with a ground out in the fifth inning and Dexter Fowler added an RBI single later in the frame. Paul DeJong crushed a solo homer to left field in the sixth to make it 3-0.

The last Cardinals no-hitter was thrown by Bud Smith on September 3, 2001 against the Padres. The Brewers were last no-hit on June 12, 2007 by Justin Verlander, then with the Tigers. If the Cardinals were to complete the no-hitter, it would be the fourth of the 2019 season and the third combined no-hitter.

We will update this thread as the Cardinals’ bullpen attempts to keep the Brewers hitless through the final two innings.