MLBits: Benefits of Quick-Pitching, Harvey's Velocity, Yankees' Spending, Gonzalez Angry, More

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MLBits: Benefits of Quick-Pitching, Harvey’s Velocity, Yankees’ Spending, Gonzalez Angry, More

Chicago Cubs

I saw Jordan Peele’s (from Key and Peele) new movie ‘Get Out’ last night, and I must say it was pretty fantastic.

The reviews (99% on Rotten Tomatoes) had me worried that I was going to be over-hyped, but nope. It was just a great mystery-thriller, with an original concept and great acting. Definitely worth catching.

You know what else is worth catching: baseballs! Let’s talk about baseball (#SeguesAreHard).

  • At the Ringer, Ben Lindbergh has an excellent read on The Art of Pitching (Faster) that attempts to blend the dynamic of MLB’s pace of play initiatives with the success of pitchers who more strictly consider pitching more quickly.
  • More specifically, Lindbergh wonders whether pitching quickly (not velocity, of course, but shortening the time between pitches) might actually help a pitcher’s performance (things like keeping the fielders engaged, providing fewer breathers for the batter, and focusing on executing your pitches are among the working theories). I don’t want to spoil the journey or answer, so you’ll have to see what he found for yourself.
  • The Mets’ killer front four of Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, and Steven Matz may finally be on the field at the same time in 2017, but will they be fully healthy? Harvey, for one example, is is dealing with some diminished velocity this Spring, after dealing with it all of last season as well, and then having surgery to address thoracic outlet syndrome. Specifically in 2015, Harvey’s fastball averaged 95.9 MPH, last season that was down to 94.5 MPH, and this Spring he’s sitting around 92-93 MPH. He’s not worried yet though, and believes that it’ll return with time. But even if the velocity doesn’t come all the way back, he believes he can find other ways to get batters out. His manager, Terry Collins, is more concerned about Harvey’s command than velocity, for what it’s worth.
  • Although Julio Urias may be one of the Dodgers’ best five starting pitchers, it’s looking more and more likely that he’ll wind up being left out of the rotation. At just 20 years old, the Dodgers are justifiably interested in limiting his innings this early in his career, and with Brandon McCarthy back and ready to pitch, they have some cover. Apparently, neither starter has been definitely told one way or the other, but McCarthy continues to get longer looks this Spring and figures to be the fifth man, come Opening Day. Even still, there’s very little reason not to expect Urias at some point in 2017.
  • After Alex Rodriguez’s contract was removed from the books for the 2013 season when he was suspended, the Yankees signed Carlos Beltran, Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann, and Masahiro Tanaka – taking their payroll back up over $200 million (a.k.a not under the luxury tax threshold). And despite another costly payroll in 2017, their 2018 figure looks quite manageable. At FanGraphs, Craig Edwards estimates that the Yankees will have as much as $60 million to spend next offseason while still staying under the luxury tax threshold. That’s huge for a team like them, that *will* use its money. And if they manage to stay under the limit next year, their payroll tax rate will decrease enough to spend wildly on the awesome 2018-2019 free agent class while paying much less than they would’ve otherwise had to. Not a bad plan, especially when it probably comes with a Bryce Harper at the end of it.
  • The Astros employ a “Director of Decision Sciences,” by the name of Sig Mejdal. Mejdal, who used to work at NASA and is apparently known as the Astros’ “science guy,” will now be transitioning (part-time) into a Minor League coach. It’s an unconventional move for a guy without baseball experience, but, well, I like it. THIS will be his baseball experience. The Astros are one of the other very forward-thinking teams in baseball, I bet this works out well for them. More at the Houston Chronicle.
  • At FanGraphs, Dave Cameron has an excellent read on the recent Kevin Kiermaier-Rays extension, and how Kiermaier likely left a lot of money on the table, thanks to problems with arbitration. Essentially, Kiermaier’s particular defensively-inclined skill set – one that makes him arguably one of the best players in baseball – isn’t valued nearly enough through arbitration (at least not as much as home runs, saves, wins, etc.). And ultimately because of that, he sold three free agents years down the line for just $12 million. The overall contract is life-changing, especially for a player drafted 941st overall, but is surely less than he could’ve otherwise commanded. There’s much more to it than that, but you definitely need to read the full article for context. It’s a good one.
  • The Seattle Mariners are producing a set of must-watch preseason commercials, and I wish more teams were doing things like this.
  • Adrian Gonzalez came out HOT on Mexico’s bouncing from the World Baseball Classic, saying “They’re trying to be the World Cup. But they’re not even the Little League World Series.” He also fired shots at MLB and the WBC in general. The reason: Gonzalez was annoyed when an unusual tie-breaker – runs scored per defensive inning – ousted Mexico from the tournament by virtue of an extra inning loss against Italy. In short, if Mexico had recorded one out before still losing, they would’ve advanced. That’s an understandable thing to get mad about, but still.

Author: Michael Cerami

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