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Weekend Rumblings - News for August 27, 2016

Beantown is Dongtown.

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Kansas City Royals v Boston Red Sox Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

Weekend Rumblings - News for August 27, 2016

Ned Yost cites Lorenzo Cain as key to the team turnaround.

“It was a big hole in our lineup when he got hurt,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “That’s when we struggled the most, when he was out of the lineup. It was evident that we were missing his production. Because he’s been pretty good all year long.”

Some of the effect, of course, is purely tangible. Cain entered Friday batting .306 with a .333 on-base percentage in August. But Yost believes Cain’s presence has a deeper impact on the offense, serving to lengthen out the lineup and offer a professional hitter in the middle of the order. A cursory look at the numbers supports the idea.

Hunter Samuels at Baseball Prospectus Kansas City sees a difference in Lorenzo Cain’s swing this year.

It’s not as if Cain used a toe tap last year, but his leg kick was less pronounced than it has been this season. I don’t know the reason for the additional movement, and I’m certainly not suggesting all leg kicks are bad. Many players have become much better hitters after incorporating that specific timing mechanism.

For Cain, though, it’s possible that the extra movement has thrown off his timing. By not getting his foot back down, his hands may be slower in getting the bat through the zone, which can lead to weaker contact, or no contact at all. His whiff-per-swing rate on four-seamers is up eight percentage points from where it was last season.

Ryan Pollack at Fangraphs writes that the Royals are no longer making elite contact.

The Royals have the worst of both worlds. Striking out more while hitting for less power will choke any offense. No wonder the team’s wRC+ has dropped from 98 to 87.

You could blame Dayton Moore for this situation if you wanted to. It’s his job to fill the system with talent. Having only Cuthbert to replace Moustakas, and having only Merrifield, Mondesi, and Colon at second base could be laid at his feet. Gordon’s and Perez’s contact issues aren’t his fault, though. Neither are those of Hosmer orKendrys Morales. And good luck getting Moore on the hot seat after back-to-back World Series appearances and a championship.

Also at Fangraphs, August Fagerstrom profiles KC’s newest bullpen weapon, Matt Strahm.

It couldn’t be easier to understand why a pitcher who gets repeated swings and misses on the fastball finds success. The fastball isn’t supposed to be the swing-and-miss pitch. The slow, bendy, loopy stuff that a pitcher plays off the fastball is supposed to get the swing and miss. If a pitcher can get repeated swings and misses with the fastball, he doesn’t need much else. It’s a big part of what makes Rich Hill so good; it’s a fabric of Max Scherzer‘s pitching identity. Strahm, thus far, has shown it, and he’s shown it while throwing his fastball three-quarters of the time.

Nicaraguan legend Dennis Martinez is impressed by fellow countryman Cheslor Cuthbert.

Meet the cat that has the Eric Hosmer haircut.

The Dodgers trade away popular catcher A.J. Ellis to pick up Philly’s Carlos Ruiz.

What teams should be interested in picking up Yasiel Puig?

White Sox GM Rick Hahn denies any discord in the front office.

The Mets are trying to salvage a lost season.

Youppi keeps the Expos spirit alive in Montreal.

California and Hawaii opened up the college football season in Australia.

What the Rams left behind in St. Louis.

Will robots eventually play alongside humans in sports contests?

Is Spotify burying artists who have exclusive deals with Apple?

Malcolm Gladwell calls satire “comedy without courage.”

Your song of the day is Ella Fitzgerald with “All the Things You Are.”