It was weird, it was wild, it was perhaps a bit irresponsible, and it was certainly bittersweet. On Sunday in Pittsburgh, Reds rookie Hunter Greene was dominant, setting a career high for strikeouts and combining with reliever Art Warren to hold the Pirates hitless for the entire afternoon. Yet when it was all said and done, Cincinnati — which had won six out of its last nine after starting the season 3–22 — found a new way to lose, 1–0. Greene and Warren didn’t even get credit for an official no-hitter, combined or otherwise.
The game’s only run scored in the bottom of the eighth inning. After Greene issued a pair of one-out walks to Rodolfo Castro and Michael Perez to push his pitch count to 118 — oh, we’ll get to that — manager David Bell pulled him in favor of Warren, who walked Ben Gamel, then induced a chopper by Ke’Bryan Hayes. Second baseman Alejo Lopez briefly bobbled the ball, and while he still threw to shortstop Matt Reynolds in time to force Gamel, Reynolds’ throw to first base was too late to complete the double play.
The Reds themselves managed just four hits against starter José Quintana and relievers Chris Stratton and David Bednar, the last of whom set down the side 1-2-3 in the ninth. Thus they joined a short and dubious list, becoming just the fifth team to hold their opponents hitless for eight innings but lose because they were nonetheless outscored. Such efforts used to be considered no-hitters, but in 1991, MLB’s Committee for Statistical Accuracy tightened the official definition of the feat, ruling that those falling short of nine innings would not receive such a designation. That put the Reds in this company:
The most infamous of such games is that of Hawkins, who allowed four eighth-inning runs via a combination of three errors and two walks, all with two outs; he did walk five overall, so his outing was kind of a mess to begin with. Greene and Warren combined to walk six, but they were the only one of the five teams above to lose after eight hitless innings without being charged with an error as well. Congrats on discovering that new way to lose, I guess. Read the rest of this entry »
The Learning and Developing a Pitch series is back for another season, and once again, we’re hearing from pitchers on a notable weapon in their arsenal. Today’s installment features a pair of southpaws — White Sox starter Dallas Keuchel and Brewers reliever Brent Suter — on their changeups.
Dallas Keuchel, Chicago White Sox
“A changeup was the first pitch I learned growing up. My dad never let me throw a breaking ball. He just had me split my fingers and try to throw a fastball as hard as I could. That was probably … let me think for a moment with my Rolodex here. I was maybe eight years old? Regardless, I don’t know how many miles per hour it was off, but it had some good deception and movement, so that’s what I rolled with through a lot of my childhood.
“I didn’t grip it like a palm ball, but a kid’s fingers are obviously smaller than the baseball, so we just tinkered with splitting the two fingers. What stuck was splitting three fingers together, instead of a circle change. It’s more of a three-finger prong changeup. When I say prong, what I mean is like a fork. But it worked well for me. It just kind of rolled off, and I’d get some whiffs and some weak contact. Read the rest of this entry »
Taylor Davis plans to stay in the game once his playing days are over. Currently on the roster of the Indianapolis Indians — Pittsburgh’s Triple-A affiliate — the 32-year-old catcher intends to become a coach, a manager, or a decision-maker in a front office. He’s already received overtures for one of those positions.
“The question does get asked,” said Davis, whose resume includes 22 MLB games over parts of four seasons. “It’s something that started even before I got to the big leagues. The first time I got asked if I wanted to coach was in 2017. That was early in the year, and then I ended up making my debut later that season. Obviously, I want to play for as long as I can, but after it’s done, doing something within the game is what I want.”
Managing might be his primary down-the-road goal, but the erstwhile Chicago Cub would also be well-suited for a corner-office role. Asked about that possibility, Davis said that he’d be equally happy wearing a polo shirt or a uniform. Roster construction and “the whole business side of the game” are among his interests. So is the data that influences, and often dictates, the decisions that are made.
“I dive into analytics probably more than the average player,” the veteran catcher explained during spring training. “I try to understand where teams are coming from, where agents are coming from, and where a player is going to come from in terms of analytics. It’s a piece of the puzzle that’s become increasing important.” Read the rest of this entry »
Ben Lindbergh and Meg Rowley banter about a wave of baseball ads for cryptocurrencies and NFTs coinciding with crashes in the crypto and NFT markets, injuries to Bryce Harper and Clayton Kershaw, the dominance of the Dodgers, Yankees, and (especially of late) Astros, the early NL West race, Robinson Canó getting a job as Jarred Kelenic loses one, the Mariners’ player development and the franchise’s future, the managerial line of succession and an unlikely player-manager scenario, and Devin Williams and the limits of effective wildness, plus three “How can you not be pedantic about baseball?” terminology questions about describing scoring and strikeouts and recalling players, and a few closing followups.
Audio intro: Joan Armatrading, “Down to Zero”
Audio outro: The Byrds, “Take a Whiff on Me”
Link to story about crypto sell-off
Link to story about crypto/NFT crash
Link to more on the crypto/NFT crash
Link to luna crash explainer
Link to Nationals tweet
Link to Ad Age story about Nats tweet
Link to Marlins NFT press release
Link to MLB/MLBPA NFT press release
Link to MLB’s Gehrig NFT
Link to Ohtani crypto press release
Link to Harper injury news
Link to Kershaw injury news
Link to fun fact about Astros
Link to Jay Jaffe on Yankees homers
Link to BaseRuns records/run differential
Link to Jay on the Canó signing
Link to Kelenic news
Link to Mariners prospect list
Link to EW email questions database
Link to effectively wild pitchers spreadsheet
Link to 2018 story about emergency goalie
Link to 2018 episode about emergency goalie
Link to FanGraphs on emergency catcher rules
Link to SI on emergency catcher rules
Link to Ohtani prankster story
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Robinson Canó will get to write another chapter to his major league career. Cut loose by the Mets earlier this month amid a roster crunch, the twice-suspended 39-year-old second baseman is reportedly on the verge of signing with the Padres. While he may not have much left in the tank, there’s very little risk involved in giving him a look, and if nothing else, San Diego could use some help for its bench.
Canó hit just .195/.233/.268 in 43 plate appearances before being designated for assignment by the Mets on May 2, the day that rosters were reduced from 28 players to 26, and then released on May 8. They parted with Canó despite owing him $44.7 million on his contract over this year and next, the final portion of the 10-year, $240 million deal he signed with the Mariners in December 2013 (Seattle still has a $3.75 million installment to pay the Mets). The Padres will be paying him only the prorated portion of the $700,000 minimum salary, which is noteworthy given that they’re less than $1.2 million below the $230 million Competitive Balance Tax threshold, according to Roster Resource.
Canó was a very productive hitter as recently as two years ago, slashing .316/.352/.544 (142 wRC+) with 10 home runs in 182 PA during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. But on November 18 of that year, Major League Baseball suspended him for the entirety of the ’21 season following a positive test for Stanozolol, a performance-enhancing drug. Canó had already drawn an 80-game suspension in May 2018 after testing positive for the diuretic known as Lasix, hence the year-long ban. The two suspensions have carried a massive cost for the eight-time All-Star even beyond the roughly $36 million in lost salary, all but wiping out any hope that he would reach 3,000 hits (he has 2,632), surpass Jeff Kent’s record of 351 home runs as a second baseman (316 of his 335 have come in that capacity), and gain entry to the Hall of Fame, which would have been a lock given his milestones and no. 7 ranking in JAWS.
In his limited opportunities with the Mets this season, Canó showed little sign of hitting like the Canó of yore. He swung and missed on 15.9% of all pitches and struck out 25.6% of the time, rates that are both more than double his career marks. His chase rate was an astronomical 48.9%, over 14 points above his career mark, and his swing rate was 58.9%, over seven points above his career mark. I’ve played this song before — since swing rates stabilize before most other stats — but the pattern does suggest he was pressing, which is understandable given his long layoff and tenuous hold on a roster spot. Canó’s 85.4% average exit velocity, 6.7% barrel rate, and 40% hard-hit rate don’t suggest he was mashing the ball; his .359 xSLG is 91 points ahead of his actual mark, but there are more than 100 hitters with larger differentials in this offense-suppressed season, and his .264 xwOBA is still cringeworthy. Read the rest of this entry »
If there’s anything as inevitable as the Tampa Bay Rays trading away a top starting pitcher, typically for salary reasons, it’s their development of the next one. Shane McClanahan looks a lot like their next one. The Baltimore native was highly effective in his rookie season, putting up a 3.34 ERA and 3.31 FIP with 10 strikeouts per nine over 25 starts in 2021. Even more impressive, he did it with minimal professional experience, with only four games in the high minors before becoming the first pitcher to make his major league debut in a playoff game.
2021 was a fine rookie season for McClanahan, but 2022 is looking like something special. In seven starts, his ERA stands at 2.52, and with a FIP of 2.67, it’s not a BABIP-fueled mirage. His strikeout percentage has jumped by about 40% year-on-year, from 27% to 38%, a notable improvement even in a very pitcher-friendly season. Batters are making both less contact than last year (dipping from 70.4% to 63.6%) and worse contact — their average exit velocity declined from 91.7 mph to 89.3, while their Statcast sweet spot percentage dipped from 36.8% to 26.5%. Among all pitchers with at least 20 innings thrown this season, only Corbin Burnes and Michael King have lower contact rates.
One of the primary differences between this season and last season for McClanahan has been the development of his changeup. Despite a fastball that can hit the high-90s with some nasty late break, McClanahan does not use his heat to finish off batters the way pitchers like Brandon Woodruff or Lance Lynn tend to. In fact, when batters get to him, it’s usually on the fastball, with a batting average well over .300 and 12 of his 19 career home runs allowed coming on the heater. Read the rest of this entry »
Read the rest of this entry »
In a Seattle Mariners system that features a number of high-profile prospects, Zach DeLoach flies under the radar. His skill set suggests that he would. Selected in the second round of the 2020 draft out of Texas A&M University, the 23-year-old outfielder doesn’t possess flashy tools. What he does possess is a well-rounded game that helped propel him to Double-A in his first full professional season. In 501 plate appearances split between High-A Everett and Double-A Arkansas, DeLoach slashed .277/.373/.468 with 14 home runs and a 126 wRC+.
DeLoach — back with Arkansas to begin the current campaign, and No. 24 on our newly released Mariners Top Prospects list — discussed his game during the Arizona Fall League season.
David Laurila: Let’s start with your 2021 season. How satisfied were you with it?
Zach DeLoach: “On a scale of one to 10, probably about a six. Maybe a seven. I definitely have some things to work on, and being here in the Fall League is exposing some of the weak points I had throughout the season. It’s really good that I was able to come here to participate, and to continue to grow as a player. I’ll continue to get after it in the offseason.”
Laurila: Were you asked to come here to work on something specific? Read the rest of this entry »
Don’t you just love the first pitch of a ballgame? I do! It’s a weird little world of its own, separate from the rest of a game in how both sides agree to approach it. Sam Miller wrote about it. I wrote about it. It’s remarkable: the pitch is almost always a fastball. This year, 97% of the first pitches of a game – by the home or road starter – have been fastballs. 95% have been fastballs dating back to 2008, the first year of the pitch tracking era.
Not only is it usually a fastball, it’s usually a medium-effort fastball. 71% of first pitch fastballs in the last two years have been slower than a pitcher’s average velocity for that game. 88% have been either slower than average or within half a tick of average.
Only a select few pitchers come out firing. That list includes Matt Brash, the king of maximum effort, who throws every pitch like it’s his last, which might explain why his five game-opening fastballs have been, on average, 1.1 mph faster than his overall fastball velocity. It’s not just him, though: Logan Webb has a little extra (0.9 mph, to be exact) on his first pitch. Logan Allen throws a ton of four-seamers, and throws 0.8 mph harder on his game-opening pitches. Zach Eflin has a bonus three-quarters of a tick. Pretty much every opener comes out throwing hard. Read the rest of this entry »
Below is an analysis of the prospects in the farm system of the Seattle Mariners. Scouting reports were compiled with information provided by industry sources as well as my own observations. This is the second year we’re delineating between two anticipated relief roles, the abbreviations for which you’ll see in the “position” column below: MIRP for multi-inning relief pitchers, and SIRP for single-inning relief pitchers.
A quick overview of what FV (Future Value) means can be found here. A much deeper overview can be found here.
All of the numbered prospects below also appear on The Board, a resource the site offers featuring sortable scouting information for every organization. It has more details than this article and integrates every team’s list so readers can compare prospects across farm systems. It can be found here. Read the rest of this entry »