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The Baseball Roundup (6/6/15)

June 6, 2015

Kev, I know you have the graduation party today, so I did a lot of heavy lifting for ya. Plenty here to riff off of, or you can go to yesterday’s results. I largely ignored the box scores.

Tony: 

I ended saying I didn’t believe in Panda yesterday, so I’ll start by saying that Rob Neyer doesn’t think it’s time to give up just yet.

Two days ago I told you I would take the Tribe rotation over that of the Mets. Well, according to Jeff Pasan, the Indians’ pitching rotation isn’t just fantastic, it’s also futuristicI didn’t realize it when I said the comparison assumed each team could control the assets going forward, but the Tribe DOES control their big 4 until 2020! Also, they “recognize that what Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz were to the 1990s, and Barry Zito, Tim Hudson and Mark Mulder were to the 2000s, they can be to the 2010s.” Which, is just super fun to dream about.

Also, apparently Cleveland is pushing some boundaries in pitcher player development. One of the methods is weighted balls:

Cleveland’s devotion to pitching runs deep in the organization, where it has hired and unleashed player-development personnel whose philosophies don’t exactly run parallel to baseball’s deeply ingrained thinking on how to grow pitchers. Assistant director of player development Eric Binder came from the Texas Baseball Ranch, the pitching think tank run by independent coach Ron Wolforth, who helped fix Scott Kazmir and has grown more mainstream in recent years.

Binder’s use of weighted baseballs – regular-sized balls made with heavier material, up to 21 ounces – is pervasive among the Indians’ minor league affiliates. The idea behind weighted-ball use is to force the arm to pattern itself properly using heavier balls and build up additional arm strength and velocity along the way. Some programs include underweight balls, too – Bauer throws some as light as two ounces – to help pitchers emphasize deceleration of the arm.

Obviously Trevor Bauer is really into this Jedi training. He also uses the Shoulder Tube – a long, oscillating stick whose nicknames include “wiggle stick,” “cattle prod,” and “javelin,” amongst other more profane things.

Also, the team adopted that “mThrow” pitching sleeve I told you about a week or two ago!

During spring training, Marcum, Bauer and others wore the mThrow pitching sleeve, which has an embedded sensor that sends kinematic data live to a computer via Bluetooth. While there were some snags with the device – Marcum said the battery died too quickly, and Bauer’s sensor slipped out of place – the Indians’ desire for more data and a better sense of what their pitchers are doing speaks to their principles.

With all the data driven things going on in Cleveland, I’m confused about why we are still fielding the worst defense on the plant. With shortstop Francisco Lindor and third baseman Giovanny Urshela, they’ve got two Gold Glove-caliber fielders primed and waiting at Triple-A. Is it time to bring them up?

Look at what Lonnie Chisenhall and Jose Ramirez are doing at the plate:

Screen Shot 2015-06-06 at 10.37.41 AM

Lonnie’s fielding actually is actually good – in fact only he, Yan Gomes, and Jason Kipnis are playing plus defense. His Rtot (total zone fielding runs above average) is actually +5. But, Ramirez’s Rtot is -5. Who are the guys really killing Cleveland’s D? Michael Brantley (-7), Brandon Moss (-7), Carlos Santana (-5), Jose Ramirez (-5), and David Murphy (-3). I add Lonnie largely because I have given up on him, so if they want to give the Colombian a go, I’m down.

Paul Swyden wonders if the Tribe is being too conservative with Lindor. Answer: not really. But, if Ramirez doesn’t adjust soon, with Lindor hitting at AAA and other big name guys like Gallo coming up, it may be time.

Interesting question. Do hard hit balls cause more errors? That would explains some of the Tribe’s woes, since its boys through gass and, presumably, when contact is made, the ball is coming off the bat hard.

Screen Shot 2015-06-06 at 10.59.03 AM

Basically, not really. Look at that home team advantage from scorers though!

Red Sox rookie Eduardo Rodríguez has pitched brilliantly in his first two starts, in a way that nobody’s seen since Billy Rohr nearly a half-century ago. What happened next? You’ll have to read Billy Rohr’s story to believe it.

Really up and down night in Boston last night…

First, in the top of the second inning of the Red Sox’ 4–2 win over the A’s in Boston, a woman seated on the third base side of home plate was struck in the head when a broken piece of Oakland third baseman Brett Lawrie’s bat flew into the stands. The woman was bleeding profusely and was taken to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center with what officials termed “serious” injuries.

Then, all was well because… the best baseball story of the year took place in the same ballpark just five innings later, when Pat Venditte made his major league debut for the A’s, becoming the first full-time switch pitcher in the major leagues since the 1880s and, at most, the second ever in major league history.

Venditte began his major league career pitching left-handed to Boston lefty Brock Holt, getting Holt to ground out to first base on a 3-2 slider. He then switched arms and gave up a groundball single through the shortstop hole to Hanley Ramirez but, sticking with his right arm, got Mike Napoli to hit into a 4-6-3 double play on his very next pitch, an 86-mph fastball.

Here is some video:

As Anna McDonald writes, MY BOYYYY Michael Wachaseems to have a solid, well-adjusted head on his body. (Oh, also he’s now 8-1 with a 2.18 ERA.)

Remember how Jason Marquis was brought up for the Nick Cage award? Rob Neyer led with him in an article about the Reds and it made me remember why he was a legit candidate:

And if you want to question the decision to give Jason Marquis a key role on the pitching staff — the same Jason Marquis who didn’t pitch last year, and who sported a 4.56 career ERA — I certainly won’t argue with you. Especially considering that Marquis has just been designated for assignment after doing almost exactly what any data-driven analysis might have predicted.

Here’s the thing, though: Marquis probably hasn’t cost the Reds a single win. Or maybe a single one.

So bad, we know he’s bad, but he just isn’t bad enough to stop having a job. Still, he’s no Livan Hernandez.

With their 4–0 victory over the Royals Friday night, the Texas Rangers have now won 13 of their last 16 games.The Royals lost for the eighth time in 10 games.

Chi Chi Gonzalez made it happen for the Rangers. All Gonzalez did Friday night was shut the Royals out on three hits, all singles, and a pair of walks. In doing so he became just the second pitcher to throw a shutout in one of his first two major league games since Clay Buchholz threw a no-hitter in his second major league start in September 2007 and just the eighth since the turn of the millennium to do so, the most recent being former Twin Andrew Albers in August 2013.

Gonzalez, who retired 12 in a row after walking Lorenzo Cain in the first, did not allow a Royal to reach second base until the seventh. Eric Hosmer had a bunt single and Kendrys Morales walked, but Alex Gordon grounded into an inning-ending double play. Did Hosmer employ the “Kyle Seager-Offensive Bunt?!”

Edinson Volquez (4-4) gave up four runs and six hits, while striking out six and walking three in 5 1-3 innings.

Love where the hype is going for the Astros. Latest? “Why The Astros are World Series Contenders:”

http://c.brightcove.com/services/viewer/federated_f9?isVid=1&isUI=1

Even though this is what some are calling the shallowest draft in the last 100 years, the Astros have an enviable draft position. They hold picks: 2, 5, 37, and 46.

Jeff Sullivan suggests that the AL has just gone bananas… Check out the actual vs. projected winning % in both leagues:

Screen Shot 2015-06-06 at 10.50.42 AM Screen Shot 2015-06-06 at 10.50.49 AM

That’s hilarious.

Nick Lampe, no doubt inspired by all the Shelby Miller love, reminds us he isn’t a Cy Young candidate. Beyond regression, he notes that there are just too many walks and not enough K’s. We shall see.

We talked about Jon Lester breaking Joey Hamilton‘s record for “Most PAs to start a career without a hit.” Henry Druschel wants more. He posits some interesting possible “worst” batting records for Lester.

Lester v. Cliff Lee is classic.

I’ll end with a recap of the Tribe game. They lost 5 – 2 to Baltimore. Adam Jones homered and tripled for the O’s. Paredes, who I cut earlier this week, was 0/4. That little fun in the sun is over. Feel great about him finishing outside the top 125 on the player rater.

Kipnis was 1/4 and David Murphy was 2/3 for the Tribe. Don’t look now, but Murphy is actually hitting. He is batting .325 on the year as a platoon guy. Yan Gomes was 2/4. Hopefully he can get back on track after a slow start and that knee injury. Even with all this pitching, we are going to have to hit to make a run at the World Series.

Shaun Marcum pitched for the Tribe, so I am not surprised, in the least, that they lost. His starts are the 20% of the time I assume things will go poorly.

Oh yeah, and since I always end with Bryce Harper. Obviously people are still cranking out thoughts on his year. I liked this one though. It looked at if this was the hottest every hot streak by a player… Interesting to look at the different streaks (they adjust the number of plate appearances to match Bryce up against other great streaks).

Kevin:

Thanks T.  I’ll go with a quick recap on last night’s games.

Yankees pull of with win 8-7 over the Angels.  Alex Rodriguez had 4 hits, his first time since 2011.  He also had another RBI to move past  Bonds into second place all time.  Guy just keeps climbing in the record books.  He scored another run to move past Musial into seventh place.  Let’s not forgot how historically great A-Rod has been.  The Yankees were up 8-1 headed into the 9th and nearly had a complete collapse, including the first Earned Run given up by fantastic young pitcher Dellin Betances. He’s been a stud, though some think, with his 27 appearances, NY is overusing him. Jered Weaver took the loss.  I remember 2010-2012, Dream Weaver looked like the next big thing.  He has kind of faded into above averageness, which is unremarkable and much less fun than greatness or totally falling apart.

Nationals break out of a hitting slump to take down the Cubs 7-5.  Espinosa had a homerun, and now leads all NL second basemen in this category. Storen picked up his 18th save to continue leading the league.  Not much to see here beyond that. Other than the Tribe’s pitching, do the Cubs have the best collection of positional talent?  Rizzo, Bryant, Castro is a hell of a young core.  And, as you pointed, out, more youth is on the way.

The Freak picked up a win for San Fran. One way you know your team is winning too many titles: Lincecum skipped the White House visit Thursday so he could fly straight to the ballpark and be well rested.  No big deal, another year another Presidential visit.  Posey hit his 9th homerun, and is showing he’s not just the best name in baseball.

Astros looked for some 9th inning magic, but came up way short, losing 6-2 to the Blue Jays. All 6 runs (5 earned) were given up by the artist formerly known as Fausto.  Too bad, really rooting hard for Fake Fausto to turn it around but his ERA is >7 in his last 3 starts. Astros will likely find out this year that you can’t take off the first 5 innings and rely on something miraculous, let’s hope they figure things out before falling back to Earth.

Pirates won 10-8 over the Braves.  Marte hit a solo shot, and the Bucs have now won 12 of 14. They are June streaking just as expected.  Not a lot of talk about Andrelton Simmons.  What’s going on?  Seems to be a little below average this year, and not quite living up to expectations.  Thoughts?

White Sox beat the Tigers in the 11th inning of a bases loaded HBP.  This is pretty rare and kind of awesome.  Sox also are showing some life lately.

Rangers beat the Royals 4-0.  Great name newcomer Chi Chi Gonzalez has now pitched 15 innings of scoreless ball to start his career in Texas.  Most importantly, in our Gallo watch, he struck out 4 TIMES YESTERDAY!! The coveted golden sombrero. He’s also now on pace for 278 K’s, which would shatter the major league record. I know it’s way early, but as promised I will continue tracking his K rate until it become unremarkable, or he gets benched.

In the Felbs Drew showdown, Milwaukee whipped the Twins 10-5.  Kyle Loshe got hit pretty good for the Brewers, which isn’t a surprise, because he’s actively bad.  Mauer had two hits.  And Adam Lind drove in 6 runs including a three run homerun.  Good win for the lowly brew crew.

Marlins beat the Rockies 6-2, and Giancarlos had his 18th dinger, this one travelling 482 feet.  What more to say about him? He’s incredible.

Couple games I didn’t get to. You’re more than welcome to get into them (Cards game and Rays game)

Later

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