The Rays will have a much-needed off day after losing in extra innings yesterday afternoon to split the four-game series with the Yankees. Cesar Ramos pitched well for five innings, but the back end of the bullpen gave up the game in the twelfth. Not long ago, Ramos was the back end of the bullpen, so I have trouble getting too worked up over this one.
Following the game, C.J Riefenhouser was sent back to Durham, and is being replaced with Juan Carlos Oviedo. If he's able to pitch to his former ability, Oviedo will be a major upgrade to the 'pen.
Tommy Rancel at The Process Report looks at Chris Archer's approach against left-handed hitters. Part of it may have to do with increased use of his four-seam fastball, rather than his two-seamer (which generally has a wider handedness split). For some more context on two-seam and four-seam fastballs, Chris Cwick talks about the rise of the two-seam fastball. And just last week, Jeff Zimmerman calculated the average ground-ball difference between a pitcher's two-seam and his four-seam. It's 9.5%.
The Rays are off to a slow start. Scott Lindholm of Beyond the Box Score looks at whether early record is a good predictor of making the playoffs or not.
Around the AL East
When Ivan Nova left Sturday's game, it was with a partially-torn UCL, similar to Matt Moore's injury. It's nice that the Yankees will also have a weakened rotation, but elbow injuries suck for anyone.
Jeffrey Bellone asks what happened to R.A. Dickey.
Jeff Passan has a good article on human trafficking and Cuban defectors. One interesting point:
Part of the current problem involves baseball's policy with Cuban players, whose value skyrocketed when the league capped spending on the draft and international amateurs. Cubans age 23 and older are the last true free agents, encumbered only by the country from which they must escape.
Patrick Dubuque at The Hardball Times has a fine existential musing on statistics in baseball, writing, and fandom.
Also at THT, but back on Friday, Dan Farnsworth investigates how strikeout rate affects run-scoring, and graphs some very interesting data. Perhaps our sabermetrically-inclined, knee-jerk reaction to say that strikeouts don't matter for an offense is based on old data that no longer applies.
While offense has declined around the league over the past few years, catchers have actually started to hit better. Dave Cameron has some speculation but no solid, provable theories, on what I think is a pretty interesting question. Thoughts?