One of the ongoing stories of the past five years in baseball has been the rise in strikeouts, the rise in fly balls, and the change, in part driven by the arrival of pitch and hit tracking data, in how both hitters and pitchers approach each other.
Different teams have successfully approached their matchups in different ways, but the Rays have been on the leading edge of the rising high fastball renaissance.
David Laurila asked 20 hitters, pitchers, and coaches whether hitters would soon start adjusting to the increase in high fastballs. It’s a really good compilation, with a few Rays-centric highlights: Derek Shelton (now with Toronto) talks about Tampa Bay targeting guys who can pitch there plus the importance of sequencing; James Shields talks about the move from pitching low to pitching high; and Matt Bowman of the Cardinals gives evidence that other teams think of this trend as being driven by the Rays.
Worth your time.
- Rays Baseball has the postgame interviews, including one with a pretty disappointed-sounding Tommy Hunter: “Just left a curveball up. Didn’t bounce it. Bounced the next one, but in this game you don’t get any do-overs.”
- Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred was in town to put pressure on the local governments to work out (and pay for to some yet-to-be-negotiated extent) a new stadium. It’s a dance. He’s the “other teams don’t like having to send revenue sharing” bad cop.
- MLB Trade Rumors analyzed the candidates for a qualifying offer this offseason, and put two Rays in the “probably not” category.
- The Twins are currently beating the Rays in the wild card race. Over the past few years they’ve remade their pitching approach in the Rays image, including hiring Neil Allen as their pitching coach, but Jeff Sullivan noticed something on the other side of the ball. They’ve recently had a very noticeable team-wide improvement in their approach at the plate. Let’s hope the Rays are also learning from the other teams across the league, and that the traffic in baseball ideas is two ways.
- Josh Harrison became the first player in MLB history to break up a no-hitter with an extra-inning walk-off homer.
- Is a change in the aerodynamic properties of the baseball driving the home run surge? The expert, Alan Nathan weighs in.
- New Rays charity auction idea: Segio Romo follows a fan around all day and mimics them doing their job.