The Starbucks near us has opened back up for drivethru orders, so I decided to treat myself to a coffee and a Bullets written in the parking lot! So that’s what I’m doing!
• I missed this one yesterday, but it’s too good AND IMPORTANT not to mention: yesterday was the 30th anniversary of the very first Maddux. Well, I mean, I suppose many many pitchers had thrown scoreless complete games in under 100 pitches before the arrival of Greg Maddux, but the first time HE did it (with the Cubs, too) is truly the birth of his namesake stat. We don’t have great pitch data before 1988, according to Andrew Simon, so Maddux does remain the career leader in Madduxes with a whopping 13.
• Simon’s piece is a great read on Maddux, both the player and the feat, and it wraps with this note:
Barring some huge, difficult-to-imagine change in how baseball is played, 13 Madduxes looks to be an unbreakable record.
Nobody who pitched in the Majors in 2019 has more than three in their careers. Nobody has more than one over the past four seasons combined, with any sort of individual shutout becoming a rarity.
But that doesn’t mean the Maddux, as a feat, is completely dead. Last season, 24% of nine-inning shutouts (six of 25) across MLB were Madduxes, the highest rate in the pitch-count era.
• Of course, you remember one of those six Madduxes from last season:
• Hendricks has two other shutouts in his career, one against the Padres in May 2015, and one against the Marlins in August 2016. That Padres game came close to a Maddux (108 pitches), but the game against the Marlins was a relative herculean effort in today’s game (123 pitches).
• It is still the case that describing Kyle Hendricks as the next Greg Maddux was always unfair when he first arrived on the scene (both because you just can’t compare a player to a first-ballot Hall of Famer, and because it was a really reductive description of what BOTH of them do so well). But time has certainly born out that a lot of what made Maddux very successful (supreme location, changing speeds, executing to zones, excellent movement) is what makes Hendricks successful. And, even now, Hendricks is still so underrated. Since his debut in 2014, among pitchers with at least 800 innings pitched (Hendricks has 996), Hendricks has the 7th best ERA- in all of baseball, tied with Justin Verlander and a percentage point behind Jake Arrieta. The six guys ahead of that trio? Kershaw, deGrom, Scherzer, Kluber, Sale, Greinke. I mean. Come on.
• A little Cole Roederer love:
• I know you can say it for so many prospects, but man, I was *REALLY* looking forward to seeing what kind of steps forward Roederer could take this year. In his first full pro season, straight out of high school, he was challenged with an immediate assignment to the Midwest League. He struggled in the cold against much older and more experienced competition, but he also made so many adjustments and learning steps along the way (wound up with a 101 wRC+, too). He’s got all the natural, projectable talent you want to see, and as his approach comes along (a little more whole field to avoid all those pulled grounders) – and his body fills out some more – there is a ton of latent power in there.
• More on Roederer’s offensive projection from Bryan here. I hope he, like all the minor leaguers around baseball, is able to compete this year in SOME kind of organized way. We know it’s not going to be a normal minor league season (and I don’t just mean shortened). But some kind of organized activity where he’s facing competitive pitching on a regular basis for some part of the calendar.
• No idea why, but one of the bestsellers right now at Amazon is the Funko Pop of The Child (aka Baby Yoda) from ‘The Mandalorian.’ Why now? Also, bonus review:
• There aren’t too many tasteful COVID-19 jokes available out there, but I tried one:
I feel like Jorge Soler is going to be at an unfair experience advantage if there is baseball in 2020. pic.twitter.com/uHrHDlhekn— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) April 29, 2020
• On a less joking note, the players are giving more in an organized way:
Today, we launch the Players Trust COVID-19 Relief program to support the causes and communities important to our players that have been significantly impacted by COVID-19. Learn more: https://t.co/2CN3GVSfdl pic.twitter.com/ghE7xKRKco— MLB Players Trust (@MLBPlayersTrust) April 28, 2020