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jake arrietaAs I’m looking over what needs to be written today, it’s figuring to be a very busy day. The post-draft, pre-Trade Deadline range is pretty much always like that. So get your eyeballs ready!

  • Jake Arrieta, Groundball Stud Watch: in his dominant start yesterday, Arrieta recorded 18 outs via 17 methods (there was one double-play). Those 17 outs were 7 strikeouts, 7 groundouts, and 3 other outs. His groundball rate in the game was a whopping 69.2%. I know the sample remains small, but we keep getting these inputs. Also, here’s Arrieta on his attempts to become more efficient (CSN): “I get to see Hammel and Samardzija both throw against this lineup and talk to them about where they approach hitters, where their go-to spots are for outs or ground balls. That’s a big help for all of us to be able to kind of brainstorm together about a certain lineup because we all have similar repertoires that we can attack hitters with.” That sounds about right. Hammel has always been a groundball guy (when he’s most effective, anyway), and Samardzija is becoming that guy this year. But both also have excellent swing-and-miss stuff. Being more efficient (getting groundballs early in the count) allows them to save that stuff for when they really need it. It makes me very happy to hear that Arrieta’s working to become that guy, too. He’s definitely got the ability, and, for him, working more in the zone with sinkers could help hide some of the command issues, too.
  • More on Arrieta, pitching coach Chris Bosio, and the 28-year-old righty’s evolution from Sahadev Sharma.
  • Allow me a moment: if you’re into it, and looking for the top 5 sites for betting on sports, that link there will hook you up swimmingly.
  • Yesterday was a bad example, but, as Sharma writes, Starlin Castro’s approach at the plate this year is dramatically improved.
  • Manny Machado should probably be suspended for quite some time. You can read about it and see it here, but, suffice it to say, the 21-year-old Orioles third baseman was thrown at because of some questionable stuff he did earlier in the series against the A’s (I’d never say a guy “deserves” to get thrown at, but he was close), and he responded by “accidentally” letting go of his bat on his next swing. It’s unclear if he was trying to throw it at the pitcher or the third baseman, but letting go of the bat was quite clearly intentional, despite whatever he said after the game.
  • GIFs of the best worst swings of the month.
  • Len Kasper shares something deeply personal.
  • Totally random, multi-Bullet thought: I really admired the Rockies’ attempt to go with a four-man rotation in 2012, because they tried to do it in just about the smartest way possible. You limit your four “starters” to 70/75 pitches per start, and then you piggy-back them  with a reliever, who is expected to then go a few innings, himself. The Rockies, if memory serves, didn’t quite stick to this hardline of an approach, but it could have worked. The theory behind it is very sound: not only are you limiting the wear-and-tear on your best pitchers, but you’re also getting them just as many innings over the course of a season as they would otherwise get, and you’re getting more effective innings (because, facing fewer batters in a single start, the pitchers can use more of their repertoire earlier in the game). It’s no secret that starters tend to be most effective the first time through the order, slightly less effective the second time through, and then fall off the table the third and fourth times through. If you could just take two pitchers, and give them each two times through the order? Over the course of a season, in theory, you would dramatically improve results. Further, this approach allows you to use four relievers as quasi-starters – guys who don’t have the arsenal to go 6/7/8 innings, but who could be dominant for 2/3 innings every four days.
  • This kind of thing won’t happen until there’s a sea change in the way baseball collectively thinks about what a starter is, and how he’s best used, but I’ve got to think, as I look ahead for the Cubs, that they’ve got a roster that would lend itself perfectly to this kind of approach. Guys like Arrieta and Edwin Jackson could see their effectiveness shoot up, and guys like Neil Ramirez and Justin Grimm could more easily make the transition to the “rotation.” Then you’ve got youngsters like C.J. Edwards and Corey Black, who might be most effective in this kind of setup. Plus, there is the litany of quality – but possibly not quite big-league-seven-inning quality starters at AAA, who might be fantastic if they could just maximize their stuff over three innings, rather than trying to spread it out over seven. And then you’ve got the huge number of power arms that, if used properly, might be able to give you two dominant innings every three days, instead of one dominant inning every two days.
  • As I said, just a random thought. It won’t happen for a number of “human” reasons (one of which, sadly, is that starters want to get “wins,” and, in this setup, they wouldn’t qualify for nearly as many*), but the theory is sound. Some day, we might see teams going to things like this.
  • *(Of course, arguably that just means your team won’t get any of the top tier starting pitchers in free agency, but maybe there’s an inefficiency to be exploited there anyway – by not spending that money, not only do you save money to be used on the (more reliable) offensive side, but you also could have a leg up with middle tier starters or fringe guys who believe their effectiveness could be maximized in a system like this.)

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