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Pitching Newsbeat

Friday, October 25, 2019

If World Series is the goal, Yankees need to get Cole-blooded and get some pitching

NEW YORK — It has become an annual event, this news conference held during an off-day while two other teams play in the World Series, at which the New York Yankees try to explain why things didn’t quite work out for them this year but will surely be better next year. Instead of a championship ticker-tape parade down the Canyon of Heroes, the Yankees offer you a parade of excuses in the bowels of a deserted Yankee Stadium.

“One hit this way, one bounce that way and maybe it’s a different conversation,’’ said manager Aaron Boone, speaking the language of losers throughout history.

“This is a championship-caliber team,’’ GM Brian Cashman said. “Just because we lost doesn’t diminish the fact that this was a championship-caliber roster that was capable of winning the whole thing.’’

And yet, the fact remains that for the 10th consecutive October, the World Series transpires without the Yankees, a drought that would seem like an eyeblink to most teams — it’s 33 years between flag-raisings for the Mets, for instance — but in the annals of a team that bills itself with some justification as The Greatest Franchise in the History of Sports, this would have been a source of shame in a previous era.

Mind you, it’s not like firing everyone every time things went wrong worked for those teams either, given the rather telling aspect involving how the two Yankees dynasties built during George Steinbrenner’s ownership were actually built…..

 

QLE Posted: October 25, 2019 at 12:26 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: entitled fans, gerrit cole, pitching, world series, yankees

Monday, October 21, 2019

Yankees’ Season Blows Up With Starting Pitcher Void Never Filled

HOUSTON — Twenty minutes after José Altuve hit the walk-off home run that sent the Astros to the World Series and the Yankees back to the Bronx, Minute Maid Park continued to roar. The field echoed with cheers as Altuve accepted the ALCS MVP trophy. The concourses reverberated as orange-clad fans congratulated one another and floated into the night. The parking lots buzzed.

The only quiet place in the ballpark could be found in the bowels below the third-base dugout, where the Yankees gathered in their clubhouse, silent but for the sounds of hands clapping shoulders as they said their goodbyes.

Eyes red, reliever Zack Britton contemplated what had just slipped away. The Astros’ 6–4 win had seemed almost unfathomable just 35 minutes earlier, after New York first baseman DJ LeMahieu lined a cutter into the rightfield bleachers to tie the game in the top of the ninth inning. That was it, the Yankees were sure. Momentum was on their side. They would force a Game 7.

Then came the bottom of the ninth. Closer Aroldis Chapman got two outs. He walked George Springer on five pitches. He ran the count to 2–1 on Altuve. He hung a slider.

Some thoughts on the roots of a loss.

 

QLE Posted: October 21, 2019 at 12:19 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: alcs, pitching, yankees

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Capital hill: Astros, Nats put World Series eyes on pitching

Gerrit Cole, Max Scherzer and a slew of aces get the World Series started in Houston, then the scene shifts to Capitol Hill.

But with Justin Verlander, Stephen Strasburg and all these electric arms, might as well call it capital hill.

Because in this Year of the Home Run, the focus of the 2019 Fall Classic is on the mound.

A throw-down for the ages, maybe. With a neat twist, too: The Astros and Washington Nationals share a spring training complex — they met in the exhibition opener, and Scherzer gave up a homer to the first batter of the game.

A consideration of the World Series to come, and an item that could end up being very important about it.


Sunday, October 13, 2019

What the Cubs can learn from the 2019 MLB postseason so far

For the 10 teams that qualify for MLB’s postseason, October represents a chance to climb baseball’s mountain and secure a championship. For the 20 other teams sitting at home, though, October is a chance to evaluate those in the Big Dance.

Less than two weeks into the postseason, here’s some things that the Cubs can take away from the action thus far.

1. Starting pitching matters

With bullpens being relied on more than ever, starting pitchers aren’t used the same way as just a few seasons ago. The Brewers rode their bullpen all the way to Game 7 of the NLCS last season, while the Rays used an “opener” (a reliever who starts a game and pitches 1-3 innings) in Game 4 of the ALDS this season – beating the Astros 4-1.

Mind you, one of these points is one which learning from seems to be avoided at all costs, so…..

QLE Posted: October 13, 2019 at 12:38 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: cubs, managerial decision-making, pitching, playoffs

Wednesday, October 02, 2019

How the Astros Nabbed Zack Greinke and Built a Postseason Rotation for the Ages

At 7 a.m. Central on July 31, Gina Luhnow descended the stairs of her house in Houston with her four-year-old son, Henry, in tow. When she had woken up, her husband, Jeff, was not in the bedroom, and soon she and Henry discovered why. He was in his home office, where he’d been experimenting with different combinations of names and numbers and pinging various members of his staff for several hours already—three hours, in fact, after a virtually sleepless night. The 12-cup carafe of Colombian dark roast he’d brewed had only one or two cups left. “Oh, boy,” Gina said. It was going to be another one of those trade deadlines.

The 53-year-old Luhnow, in his eighth season as the general manager of the Astros, is often accused of being entirely left-brained, and his sometimes bloodless analytical leanings served him well as he transformed the terrible club he’d taken over into the 2017 World Series champion, and then a consistent power. Even so, he swears he internalizes public opinion, and everywhere he went in midsummer—in radio interviews, down onto the field at Minute Maid Park, whenever he walked past a screen tuned to the MLB Network—he heard the same thing. Which was that even though the Astros seemed destined to become the sixth team ever to win 100 games in three straight seasons, and even though they already had the two best starting pitchers in the American League, they still needed to trade for another quality starter. The worst part was that everyone who said that was absolutely right.

He had acquired his dominant one-two rotational punch via trade. Justin Verlander came from the Tigers with officially two seconds to go before the waiver deadline—a secondary deadline that no longer exists—in late August of 2017, and Gerrit Cole arrived from the Pirates in a less stressful deal finalized the following January. Over their two seasons together, Verlander and Cole have ranked first and second (in some order) in the AL—and, in most of these categories, in the majors—in ERA, wins, strikeouts, batting average against and WHIP. Luhnow’s third starter, the veteran lefty Wade Miley, had at the time far outperformed his bargain one-year, $4.5 million contract; he was 9–4, with a 3.06 ERA.

But no one else had stepped up to secure the fourth, let alone the fifth, spot in the rotation, not Collin McHugh, not Brad Peacock, not Framber Valdéz, not Corbin Martin. Luhnow did not believe he needed another pitcher in order to win the AL West for the third consecutive season; the Astros were already 7 1/2 games up on the second-place A’s and had the league’s best run differential. He needed someone who could reliably start one or two games in a seven-game playoff series, four outings of which would undeniably go to Verlander and Cole. He needed someone who was as good or better than Miley.

A case study concerning the front-office search for pitching.

 

QLE Posted: October 02, 2019 at 12:33 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: astros, pitching, playoffs, zack greinke

Friday, September 27, 2019

Improved Pitching Is Fueling Brewers’ Postseason Push Without Christian Yelich

September constitutes its own weird frame of reference for MLB—speed and distance are harder to accurately discern, everything passes too slowly or too fast, the stakes are either so high that you cannot look down or so low that the situation is all flattened out. The usual standards do not apply.

So, from the perspective of this late-season weirdness, when Christian Yelich fractured his kneecap on September 10, it seemed fairly clear: Milwaukee’s season was over. The Brewers would not return to the postseason for a second consecutive year. An extreme reaction to one injury? Sure. But the team was one game back of the second wild-card; Yelich was not only their best player, but arguably the best in the National League; and their proximity to a playoff spot had been possible only with an extreme hot stretch that seemed like it would be difficult to sustain even under the best of circumstances. Their remaining schedule was fairly easy (four of five series were against losing teams), but even so, there was no room for error; FanGraphs put their postseason chances at just 25%. The stakes were just too much, and Yelich was too good. There was too much time to fill. From this frame of reference, Milwaukee was, if not screwed, dangerously close to it.

But, of course, it wasn’t. The Brewers’ Wednesday win over the Reds clinched their postseason spot. Even without Yelich, they’re going back to October. They have not just survived the last two weeks. They’ve dominated them. Since Yelich’s injury, Milwaukee is 12-2, part of a greater run that’s turned on the strength of what was formerly their biggest weakness: In September, Brewers pitching has been crucial to their success.

Milwaukee’s staff has ranged from clear problem area (in the spring) to serious liability (early season) to, at best, simply fine (late summer). As a group, it’s never been a particular positive. And now?

Not what any of us were expecting two weeks ago, is it?

 

QLE Posted: September 27, 2019 at 12:31 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: brewers, christian yelich, pitching

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

The Yankees Will Play by Their Own Pitching Rules in October

Are you old enough to remember when the Yankees invited criticism for not trading for a starting pitcher at the trade deadline? Oh, right. That was only two months ago. Since then the Yankees are 30-14, and are going full steam into the postseason with a pitching script that fits the modern game, not your fossilized narrative of what wins in October.

“We’re going to be a little untraditional,” manager Aaron Boone said. “The only one we might use as a traditional starter is [James] Paxton.”

By traditional, Boone means a starting pitcher who goes as deep as he can into a game. Otherwise, New York is prepared to script each game with piggyback starters and six key relievers. That doesn’t make the Yankees vulnerable. It makes them smart.

Traditional starters always will be the preferred model in the postseason. The Astros and Nationals will try to win the traditional way. But because bullpens are so deep and because lineups are so powerful, most teams don’t have enough starters to play that game. Now postseasons are decided not by starters “pitching deep into games” but by how a team decides to deploy pitchers in “untraditional” ways–rovers, openers, third-time around pitching changes, etc.

Did Verducci forget about the Royals of 2014 and 2015, or is he hoping that we did?

 

QLE Posted: September 17, 2019 at 12:32 AM | 17 comment(s)
  Beats: pitching, yankees

Thursday, September 05, 2019

LRP: Quantifying the Location Aspect of Command – Six Man Rotation

Interesting stuff.

Jim Furtado Posted: September 05, 2019 at 10:42 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: pitching, sabermetrics

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

The Ringer: How Lance Lynn Became the Best Pitcher in the AL

Like all great bits, my effusive adoration for Lynn was grounded partially in the truth—two truths, to be exact. The first is that Lynn specifically was underrated. From 2010 to 2018, 24 starting pitchers had at least three seasons with enough innings to qualify for the ERA title and an ERA+ of 120 or better. Ten of them have won at least one Cy Young Award, and another eight have finished third or better. But of those 24 starting pitchers, only Lynn and Hiroki Kuroda have never earned a single Cy Young vote.

My name is Votto, and I love to get blotto Posted: August 14, 2019 at 08:56 AM | 8 comment(s)
  Beats: lance lynn, pitching, rangers, war

Monday, August 05, 2019

Astros formidable, but great rotations can still fall short

Yes, the Houston Astros can still be beat, even after assembling baseball’s newest super rotation.

The Astros acquired six-time All-Star Zack Greinke from Arizona just before Wednesday’s trade deadline, adding him to a pitching staff that already included Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole. Then, as if to show off, Houston threw a combined no-hitter Saturday night against Seattle — with Aaron Sanchez, another new acquisition, tossing six innings.

Still, recent history tells us that in baseball’s fickle postseason, even a trio of aces often isn’t enough. Here’s a look at some of the best rotations of the wild-card era — and how those teams ultimately fared.

Atlanta Braves (1995-99): The Atlanta trio of Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz actually joined forces before the wild-card era and stayed together into the new century, but the peak was probably the mid-to-late 1990s, when the Braves won three pennants and a World series in a five-year span. Maddux won the Cy Young Award in 1995, Smoltz in 1996 and Glavine in 1998.

I’ll take “Things We Already Knew” for $80, Art.

QLE Posted: August 05, 2019 at 03:35 AM | 40 comment(s)
  Beats: astros, pitching, rotation

Thursday, August 01, 2019

Desperate for pitching, Brian Cashman and the Yankees strike out

The New York Mets got Marcus Stroman. The Cincinnati Reds got Trevor Bauer. The Houston Astros got Zack Greinke.

And the New York Yankees got the title character in a spaghetti western.

That’s how the 2019 MLB trade deadline has shaken out for GM Brian Cashman and his staff of analytics experts.

While teams all over the league were improving their pitching staffs — especially Houston, through which New York’s road to the World Series probably passes — the Yankees added a 20-year-old left-handed pitcher in the low minors whose name might ring a bell with movie fans of a certain age.

So, what might the Yankees try next- Option J, or Operation Shutdown?

QLE Posted: August 01, 2019 at 03:36 AM | 32 comment(s)
  Beats: brian cashman, pitching, trade deadline, yankees

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Caleb Smith goes 7 innings to help Marlins beat Arizona 11-6

By the second inning, Caleb Smith had infield dirt on his jersey, his knee and the backside of his pants, which is why his third inning of pitching was less than clean.

Smith endured a bad stretch after a baserunning adventure but recovered to pitch seven innings and help the Miami Marlins beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 11-6 Monday.

Smith laid down a bunt in the second and wound up at third base thanks to two errors on the play. The next inning he gave up three hits, including a three-run homer by Ketel Marte, and acknowledged his jaunt on the bases took a toll.

“We need to keep oxygen tanks in the dugout,” Smith joked. “My legs were definitely tired. It took probably two innings to get my legs back under me.”

Remember when pitching for seven innings was the norm, and not something mentioned in sports headlines?

 

QLE Posted: July 30, 2019 at 05:05 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: caleb smith, marlins, pitching

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Pitching the name of the game heading into MLB’s trade deadline

If the past few winters have revealed little else, it is that the game lacks the stomach for mediocrity. Or make that, perhaps, inevitable mediocrity. Planned mediocrity. That leaves winning, or trying to win, which is where the money is. And it allows for rebuilding or tanking or whatever today’s idiom is, which is where the alibis are. (And where the money is.)

The rest is a clock-punching slog dressed up as second wild-card ambition and Mike Trout highlights. Nobody shoots for mediocrity as a place to hang out until the Double-A cavalry arrives, assuming it’s headed this way at all, except here we are, a third of Major League Baseball there anyway, selling hope and $25 parking spaces in the name of “meaningful games in September.”

It is, of course, just this sort of accidental relevance that fuels and complicates the final days of July and a trade deadline in which the winners are expected to deal away potential prospects for the players they wouldn’t sign in the winter because of the cost in draft picks, so potential prospects. And the rebuilders (and tankers) are expected to send their best players to the New York Yankees for what is safely assumed to be the next Mickey Mantle. The rest, the accidentally relevant, are supposed to choose between selling out and buying in based on the results of, like, four late-July games played against other equally adventitious souls. General managers will make these decisions and the subsequent deals—or non-deals—with great confidence. They will, by and large, be guessing.

Anyway, this is basically the system that had Yu Darvish pitching for the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 7 of a World Series and Steve Pearce driving in three runs for the Boston Red Sox against the Dodgers in Game 5 of the next World Series, that has Fernando Tatis Jr. growing up in San Diego and not Chicago and Chris Paddack growing up in San Diego and not Miami and why, otherwise, the Padres should hardly ever make trades.

Wait a minute- I thought fame was the name of the game! Curse you, Anthony Franciosa!

QLE Posted: July 27, 2019 at 11:06 AM | 2 comment(s)
  Beats: pitching, the name of the game, trade deadline

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Nationals, Orioles have all-time bad MLB bullpens | SI.com

Relief pitching has reached a tipping point.

For half a century, ever since the mound was lowered in 1969, relief pitchers posted a lower ERA than starting pitchers. That no longer is true.

As managers go to bullpens earlier and earlier, and as the use of openers grows, workload is catching up to bullpens.

Relievers have a higher ERA (4.50) than starters (4.44) for the first time since 1969. Only three years ago, relievers’ ERA was almost half a run better than that of starters (3.93 to 4.34).

Bullpen ERA this year is the second worst in the past 69 years (only 2000 was worse) and the eighth worst of all time. And it’s getting worse as the workload piles up. Monthly bullpen ERA this year: 4.37 in April, 4.45 in May and 4.72 in June, making this the worst June for relievers since 1950.

Jim Furtado Posted: June 25, 2019 at 06:25 AM | 33 comment(s)
  Beats: pitching

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

The Sinker Paradox | FanGraphs Baseball

I’m left with a sinking feeling about sinkers.

Jim Furtado Posted: June 18, 2019 at 11:11 AM | 3 comment(s)
  Beats: pitching

 

 

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