I love afternoon games, and the Cubs have three of them this weekend, all at home, all against the White Sox. It’s gonna be a great weekend of baseball (and Mothers!).
Here’s some news from around the league …
- If you’ve been following – even just in general – this past year, you’ll know that the Players Association and the League have been at odds over … just about everything. It all mostly stems from the changes in the last CBA (wherein the league “won” far too many battles, some of which led to the worst free agent market (for free agents) in recent memory) but it’s spilling over into every aspect of the game. Now, according to Yahoo Sports, the two sides of baseball can’t even agree on All-Star voting rules. Seriously. And the craziest thing is that the proposed changes really weren’t all that drastic. In fact, they’re hardly that different at all (an initial round of voting by fans, top three finalists at each position, and then voting again). Instead, it seems as though this was some more message-sending. A labor fight is coming, y’all. It’s not going to be pretty.
- After missing nearly all of the 2017 season (torn ACL, torn meniscus, sprained ankle), Adam Eaton finally made it back this season, playing all of eight games for the Nationals before getting injured again (ankle) sliding into home on April 5. Apparently, Eaton kept trying to come back from the injury, but would be set back as soon as he started baseball activities, for unknown reasons. After being evaluated by a foot specialist (the guy who helped Derek Jeter, Kevin Durant, and Steph Curry), surgery was scheduled and executed yesterday. Now, Eaton is expected to get better permanently and eventually make his return (however, he is still a ways off and there is no timetable). It’s been an injury-filled start to the season for the Nationals.
- As expected (and officially decided by a vote on Wednesday), the Arizona Diamondbacks can now start looking for a new home instead of Chase Field (they had some issues with the government over who’d be paying for renovations to the 20-year-old stadium). If they find another location inside Maricopa County, they can move out of their current ballpark, Chase Field, as soon as 2022, five years earlier than their agreement was set to expire. You can read more about it at USA Today.
- Matt Harvey is making his debut for the Cincinnati Reds tonight, and like I said in the Series Preview about James Shields, when a former ace is on the mound you have to be prepared for a dominant performance, no matter how long it’s been or how unlikely it is. I know Harvey doesn’t garner much good will among most fans (and I know the Reds are in the NL Central) … but I kinda hope he dominates, because I pretty much hate the Mets and love a good comeback.
- Perhaps unsurprisingly – given the recent trend of homers and strikeouts – no-hit bids are happening at an elevated rate this season. Over at The Ringer, you can see a graph tracking the percentage of no-hit bids over 5 (5.3%), 6 (3.8%), and 7 (1.7%) innings this season is clearly on the rise and the highest it’s been in a long time. In fact, we’ve had “28 no-hitters through five, 20 through six, and nine through seven, all record totals through this point in the year.”
- In response to that phenomenon (and article, directly), Craig Edwards (FanGraphs) tries to determine when we should actually start paying attention to a no-hitter. According to his data, 60% of no-hit bids are lost in the first inning (lulz), roughly 20-25% in the second inning, and under 10% in the third inning. So, at a minimum, don’t even look at the board until he’s past three innings. The actual results though are based on much more than that and are a little nuanced. For the most part, it seems that tuning in after or around the fifth inning is worth it. And you know what, that is when it starts to feel real, anecdotally, right?
- Along the lines of dominant pitching performances and more no-hitters than normal, Sam Miller calls the “21-strikeout game” baseball’s best record that’s realistically within reach of being tackled. He argues that five homers in a single game is a close second, but far less likely to actually happen (there have only been four plate appearances in MLB history that could’ve resulted in a player’s fifth home run of a game). In any case, if someone’s going to do it, my money’s on Max Scherzer.
- I consider myself extremely progressive when it comes to changing the game of baseball … but you can go ahead and count me on reducing the number of innings/game from nine to seven. To me, that’s WAY more intrusive than a pitch clock, and, say 154 games, and probably accomplishes less, too. But if you’re interested in the idea (or interested in pushing back on it), Ken Rosenthal has more on the proposal from former MLB ace Jim Kaat at The Athletic.
- D-Backs starter Patrick Corbin is having a huge season (2.12 ERA, 2.95 FIP) in his walk year before free agency, and at just 28 years old could be setting himself up for a huge payday. HOWEVA, underneath the surface some troubling velocity issues have popped up. Corbin says he feels fine and he’s dominating more than ever, but his velocity is way down suddenly, so it is a concern.
- Also at FanGraphs, Jeff Sullivan takes a look at some of baseball’s most changed hitters (for better or for worse) and it’s a pretty interesting read. To measure these changes, Sullivan examined swing rate, contact rate, average launch angle, and average exit velocity, to get to the core changes, and came up with a list of 25 names. No Cubs make the list, but there are some important names nonetheless. For example, Matt Carpenter, who’s struggled this season, is swinging more often, making less contact, hitting at a lower launch angle, and with a lower average exit velocity. He’s currently got a 68 wRC+, which is FAR lower than his career 129 wRC+ rate. His lowest single-season mark before this was 117 wRC+ in 2014, so, yeah, something’s definitely changed.
- At the Wall Street Journal, Jared Diamond takes a look at the high number of terrible records expected by the end of the season compared to other years. Specifically, only one club has had a 100-loss season in the past four years while six teams are on pace for as many this season.
- The Onion continues to make magic:
— The Onion (@TheOnion) May 9, 2018
— Baseball is Fun (@flippingbats) May 11, 2018