Another week of baseball, another bench clearing brawl, another day filled with internet hot takes about whether fighting in baseball is right or wrong. This time the culprits were Kansas City Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura and the Baltimore Orioles Manny Machado. The Orioles were leading the game 5-1 in the 5th inning when Ventura placed a 99 mph fastball square in the back of Machado. He proceeded to charge the mount, throw a punch and take Ventura down to the ground.
During the post game interviews, Ventura insisted that his pitch was accidental and had no intention of hitting Machado. He went on to imply that Machado has a reputation of having a short fuse and his temper should be the subject of scrutiny not the pitcher’s intent. Orioles manager Buck Showalter has a differing opinion on the subject: “I thought he was trying to hit him the at-bat before. That’s why I talked to him before he took his last at-bat. I wanted him to be aware of it.”
Machado has no regrets (Y.O.L.O.) and while he doesn’t seem to repent his actions a suspension will surely follow. “It’s part of the game. Reactions fly. When somebody’s throwing 99 at you, it’s going to hurt. You can ruin someone’s career. You don’t think in that situation. You just react to it.” I couldn’t agree more with what Machado said. Whether there was or was not intent, an event will spark reaction. The majority of people would react the same way and in baseball it’s customary (and somewhat accepted) to do so.
Usually a switch from the American League to the National League is a benefit for pitchers but not for James Shields. Normally losing the DH for the pitcher’s spot will only help one’s ERA & win probability but Shields’ tenure in the NL West has not been a screaming success. In his 9 years in the American League (7 – Tampa, 2 – KC) Shields posted a 114-90 record (55.9%) with a 3.72 ERA. During his cameo in the National League a 15-14 record (51.7%) and a 4.00 ERA was dampened by a poor 2016 season. This year through 11 starts, Shields is 2-7 with a 4.28 ERA and has already matched last season’s loss total. His home runs allowed are up (allowed league high 33 last season), his walks are up, his production is down. Even in a pitcher friendly haven like Petco Park his ERA soared above 5.00 which is a worrisome statistic.
During the winter of 2015, the San Diego Padres signed Shields to a big free agent contract worth $75 million over 4 years with a team option for year five. Not even two years into that deal Shields has been traded to the Chicago White Sox for Erik Johnson and Fernando Tatis Jr. So what are the White Sox getting? They’ll get a strong right handed pitcher who can eat up innings but at what effectiveness? Currently he’s posted his highest WHIP in six seasons, opposition’s batting average and balls in play are all up which means he’s not missing any bats. The White Sox are hovering around .500 and more than anything they need a big bat but instead they add another arm to the rotation. Shields won’t be their savior but adds more stability to a staff already consisting of: Chris Sale, Jose Quintana, Carlos Rodon and Mat Latos.
There must be something about Brandon Guyer, Anthony Rizzo and Starling Marte that makes pitchers want to bean them. In 2015, Anthony Rizzo led the majors with 30 Hit-By-Pitches followed by Brandon Guyer with 24 and Starling Marte with 19. So far this season the “hit list” are the usual suspects once again.
So what is it with Guyer that makes him so likely to get plunked? I think it’s a few different things. For starters he crowds the plate and he’s not a great at hitting the inside pitch so of course the scouting report is to jam him inside. The recipe for that is taking one off the elbow or ribs every so often. Secondly, it doesn’t appear that Guyer is all that responsive when it comes to eluding a pitch. Some players have a natural instinct to avoid a pitch, others seem to lack that quick reflex and just wear it wherever the ball lands on their body.
Through the first 17 games of this season he was nailed 9 times which is the most in history to start a season. His pace was to get hit by 54 pitches but that has since slowed down and right now he’s on the DL with a strained hamstring so he’s safe for another few weeks.
15 – Brandon Guyer
9 – Dexter Fowler
9 – Anthony Rizzo
9 – Derek Dietrich
8 – Starling Marte
The motto is “they can’t win if they don’t score” and that’s true assuming your team actually scores for you. In the case of the pitchers below oh how life can be different with and without run support. Take someone like Greg Maddux who had a career 3.16 ERA (2.63 ERA during his prime in Atlanta) and 355 career wins but how many wins were left on the table because the Braves never scored for him.
Below are pitchers five pitchers who are receiving incredible run support and five who are not and notice the discrepancy in their W/L totals vs. Run Support and their personal ERA. It paints quite the picture. It’s amazing what a little run support can do for your numbers and your perception of statistics. Click on the name to review current run support.