MLBits: Shelby Miller Disaster, Wainwright Strike Zone, Samardzija, Urias Called Up, More

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MLBits: Shelby Miller Disaster, Wainwright Strike Zone, Samardzija, Urias Called Up, More

Chicago Cubs

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It’s an off day today for the Chicago Cubs, so let’s change gears and look at some big news from around the league …

  • Remember that Shelby Miller trade from this last offseason that was pretty widely considered one of the most lopsided trades in recent memory, even for a guy as talented as Miller? Well, it looks even worse now. Through his first ten starts, Miller has a 7.09 ERA and peripherals to support it (6.59 FIP). Worse, his unbelievably low strikeout rate (14.0%) is nearly matched by his unbelievably high walk rate (13.5%), and he’s already given up 10 homers this season (45.2 IP), despite giving up just 13 all of last year (205.1 IP). It’s gotten so bad, in fact, that the Tony La Russa (the D-Backs chief baseball officer) is considering sending Miller to the minors to get him back on track. Yikes.
  • Also struggling mightily is (former?) Mets ace Matt Harvey. Harvey joins Miller in the high ERA club (6.08 ERA), and he, too, has peripherals supporting his slow start (4.40 FIP). His most recent start (5IP, 5ER, 3 HRs, 2BBs 1K) caused a tiny bit of tension in Mets land, though, as team captain David Wright very lightly chided Harvey for refusing to talk to the media after the game. According to Wright, everyone needs to be accountable for their play on the field. Sometimes, that means coming in and talking to the reporters about how good you are doing and sometimes it means the opposite. Wright added, “Accountability is big and I think [Harvey] just had a bit of a lapse in judgement.” Wright hasn’t yet spoken with Harvey about it, but plans on doing so soon.
  • Adam Wainwright is not a fan of the idea to raise the strike zone. “It’s a horrible, horrible idea,” Wainwright said to the St. Louis Post Dispatch. “One, I’m a pitcher. And I’m a pitcher who likes to keep the ball low. Two, and mainly, all this talk about making the games shorter – what part of raising the strike zone up is going to do that?” Well, one, it’s not all about you and the specific way you’ve found success in your career (it could hurt for example, Cubs pitchers, too ((also, Wainwright’s almost 35 years old and has a 5.77 ERA … I’m not sure raising the strike zone is what will kill him)). And, two, raising the strike zone is about increasing offense, so uh, yeah, it probably won’t make games shorter, because that’s not solely the point.
  • It’s an even numbered year, so … watch out for the San Francisco Giants. They’ve now won 13 of their last 14 games, in what can only be described as a Space Jam level of talent stealing from the Chicago Cubs. Although, their only loss during that stretch did come against the Cubs and Jake Arrieta, so maybe they didn’t hold onto the baseball long enough.
  • Yikes … keep an eye out for the Pirates or they’ll get ya:

  • Somewhat relatedly, after two of his players were hit by Pirates pitches this week, and he believed Pirates broadcasters had spoken inaccurately about his history with retaliation, Tony La Russa went into the broadcast booth to “[correct] the inaccuracies” (AZ Central).
  • Peyton Manning has reportedly decided not to sue over the Al Jazeera report that made allegations of his (and many others’) use of HGH. That matters to the world of baseball, because his suit would have brought much more attention to the entire situation, which you’ll recall includes both Ryan Howard and Ryan Zimmerman, both of whom, by the way, are filing suit.
  • In February of 2014, a group of ex-minor league baseball players filed a class action lawsuit against MLB, claiming that the pay structure in the minors violated the U.S. minimum wage law. According to those ex-players, the majority of minor leaguers get signing bonuses of about $2,5o0 and earn between $3,000 and $7,500 over their five month season. In addition, they aren’t typically paid for their participation in spring training or fall instructional time, which takes place before and after the season. That’s interesting enough on its own, but Chris Mitchell takes it one step further at The Hardball Times by pointing out the actual baseball effect of these low wages. According to Mitchell, low wages force players to live paycheck to paycheck, some even worrying about where their next meal is coming from, and thus, not on where the next curveball is coming from. Indeed, if players are concerned with their livelihood first and foremost, they may not be focused enough on becoming a good player. More importantly, though, “the uncompetitive wages,” according to Mitchell, “seem to be dissuading some from pursuing careers in baseball altogether. They’re poking holes in MLB’s talent pipeline leading to a lower level of talent on the field.” Furthermore, there seems to be a direct relationship between median family income and reaching the Major Leagues. It’s a good read, far too much to get into in one bullet, so you should really check it out.
  • Jeff Samardzija sucked last year (4.96 ERA in 32 starts), but has been awesome this year (2.54 ERA in 10 starts). I say it so bluntly, because I’m guessing that’s how Shark would have put it himself. So to what does he/we/the baseball world credit his resurgence? He was tipping pitches. At FanGraphs, August Fagerstrom writes (including specific examples in GIF form) about Samardzija tipping his pitches in 2015. But what’s interesting is not just that he was tipping, but how he was tipping. Apparently, Samardzija took much less time to deliver a fastball to the plate, but held his position on the mound quite a while longer before throwing his slider (maybe to get a better grip on the ball? maybe just wasn’t thinking?). It’s pretty fascinating to see multiple examples (including the Cubs taking advantage), and it was a pretty big find for the Giants. If that’s all it took to fix him, the Giants may have gotten a heck of a deal this past offseason (Samardzija has a 2.54 ERA, 2.93 FIP, and 3.41 xFIP).
  • This is gonna be fun. The Dodgers are set to call up 19(!)-year-old starting pitching prospect Julio Urias from AAA to make his Major League Debut this Friday against the Mets. Urias is the number 2 prospect in baseball, according to MLB Pipeline, and joins just nine other starting pitchers who’ve made their ML debut as teenagers in the last 35 years. Urias currently has a 1.10 ERA over 41.0 innings (in some of the toughest places to pitch in the Pacific Coast League).
  • Over at Baseball is Fun, who doesn’t love a good managerial freak out?

Brett Taylor contributed to this post.

Author: Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami covers the Chicago Cubs, Bears, and Bulls at Bleacher Nation. You can find him on Twitter @Michael_Cerami