UPDATE: The Pirates placed Jordy Mercer on the 15-day disabled list with a lower leg contusion and MCL sprain. As expected, Brent Morel has been called up from Triple-A Indianapolis.
9:08 AM: Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop Jordy Mercer was injured in yesterday’s loss to the Brewers when Carlos Gomez slid into him in the second inning while trying to break up a double play. It appears that Gomez and Mercer’s knees collided. Mercer was taken off the field on a cart. Mercer is back in Pittsburgh today to have his knee looked at.
No one seems to have taken issue with the slide. Clint Hurdle said after the game yesterday that it was a “baseball play,” even if it was a hard one. Gomez, for his part, tweeted out his thoughts after the game:
Jung Ho Kang, who has been starting at third lately for the injured Josh Harrison, will take over at shortstop while Mercer is out. Kang says he is comfortable with the switch given that he played most of his time at short while in Korea. Bill Brink of the Post-Gazette reports that the Pirates are likely to make a roster move today before the game, probably calling up Brent Morel, who can play third base.
If you have an infielder to shop, you may want to call the Pirates.
A fascinating and no doubt time consuming research project was released this morning. An Astros fan by the name of Tony Adams went through every Astros home game in the 2017 season and logged trash can bangs. Which, as you know, was the mechanism via which Astros players in the clubhouse signaled to hitters which pitch was coming.
Adams listened to every pitch from the Astros’ 2017 home games and made a note of any banging noise he could detect. There were 20 home games for which he did not have access to video. There were three “home” games which took place at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida due to the team being displaced by hurricane Harvey and for which, obviously, the Astros’ camera setup from Minute Maid Park would not have been applicable.
Adams logged over 8,200 pitches and found banging before over 1,100 of those pitches. He graphed which players got the most bangs during their at bats. Marwin Gonzalez got the most, with bangs coming before 147 of 776 pitches seen, followed by George Springer, who got bangs on 139 of 9333. José Altuve had the least among regulars, with only 24 bangs in 866 pitches. One gets the sense that, perhaps, he felt that the banging would interfere with his normal pitch recognition process or something.
Adams reminds us that Commissioner Manfred’s report stated that the Astros also used hand-clapping, whistling, and yelling early in the season before settling on trash can banging. Those things were impossible to detect simply by watching video. As it is, Adams’ graphs of bangs-per-game shows that the can-banging plan dramatically ramped-up on May 28.
It’s hard to say anything definitive about the scope and effectiveness of the Astros’ sign-stealing scheme based on this study alone. Adams may or may not have been hearing everything and, as he notes, there may have been a lot more pitches relayed thought means other than trash can banging than we know. Alternatively it’s possible that Adams was marking some sounds as bangs that were not, in fact, Astros players sending signals to the batter. It’s probably an inexact science.
Still, this is an impressive undertaking that no doubt took a ton of time. And it at least begins to provide a glimpse into the Astros’ sign-stealing operation.