LOOK AT THESE PHOTOGRAPHS:
That sky accompanied the Royals’ balk-off win last night, their second this season. Per Dave Holtzman: “Royals first 8,616 games in history: 0 balk-off wins. Royals last 33 games: 2 balk-off wins.”
Cole Ragans is understandably the hottest topic on the Royals, and Esteban Rivera at FanGraphs had this to say on the “Cole Train:”
I don’t want to take a jab at the Royals, who deserve some credit here but haven’t done a great job of late in developing pitchers. But there’s something to be said about a team supporting its player in consulting outside sources mid-year. It makes even more sense from an org that doesn’t have a great track record. So far, the collaboration is looking fantastic. It’s only been 47 innings, but Ragans has been undeniably elite.
Even so, it was smart of Ragans to increase the changeup usage, because it was simply too effective not to do so. Throw your best pitch more often if other pitches aren’t working! But the changeup wasn’t as good against lefties as it was against righties. It was still effective, but he didn’t throw it as often; it’s a tough pitch to command against same-handed hitters. That’s where the new toy comes in: a hard slider with some depth, the perfect solution against lefties. Add that to an upper-90s heater and three other options? Yeah, good luck.
As Marquee Network analyst Lance Brozdowski wrote about with regards to Ragans, adding the slider essentially involved turning his already existing cutter into two new pitches. This is important: making small tweaks to something you’re already capable of doing is exactly how a pitcher can make a change like this on the fly. Commanding a gyro slider isn’t too difficult if you’ve already thrown a cutter a ton.
Also at FanGraphs, David Laurila is a great interviewer, but Bobby Witt Jr.’s dedication to keeping hitting simple is steadfast.
Laurila: There is obviously a lot of data in today’s game. I’m sure you’ve studied your swing.
Witt Jr: “Yes, but I’m not really big into the data. I’m more of a visual learner. I see things that I like to do, whether it’s watching guys on TV, or… like, growing up, I would try to emulate guys’ swings. That was kind of how I made my swing.”
Laurila: Whose swing did you try to emulate?
Witt Jr: “Pretty much whoever I was really liking at the time. I grew up a big Red Sox fan and was always kind of smaller growing up, so Dustin Pedroia was one. I had the narrow stance with the big leg kick. I also liked watching Prince Fielder a little bit and transitioned into a toe tap. So just watching guys and seeing what they’re doing on the field, seeing what their approach was. From a young age, I was trying to emulate that to myself.”
Laurila: Pedroia was short and direct to the ball, with the length in his swing primarily coming in his followthrough. Is that something you recognized?
Witt Jr: “Not really. I was more so just looking at his stance at the time and trying to hit the ball.”
I loved this story from Abby Dodge at KSHB about a blind fan who threw out a first pitch on Monday, featuring descriptive audio from Jake Eisenberg’s broadcasts that fill in when seeing the action isn’t possible.
The Rangers are turning to old friend Ian Kennedy for bullpen help.
Chris Gilligan at FanGraphs dives into the historically good 2023 MLB rookie class, including Maikel Garcia and even a little shoutout for Freddy Fermin.
Guardians manager Terry Francona implies he will retire at the end of this season.
The Angels chose to use a body double to stand in for Shohei Ohtani in the team photo. Think anyone will notice? It’s not like Ohtani is the most visibly recognizable MLB player since...Jeter? I don’t know.
ESPN announced the schedule for the Manningcast, with the NFL season about to start. Do you ever tune in to that?
Now is the time to plant stuff like garlic and onions to harvest next spring.
The latest on tropical storm Lee, which is expected to strengthen into a hurricane this weekend.
Bob Barker’s cause of death was Alzheimer’s, according to his death certificate.
Do you, like me, suffer from “waiting mode” when you have something like an afternoon appointment? Here are some suggestions, but to me they read like “don’t go into waiting mode” and I don’t know what to make of that.
The Joe Jonas/Sophie Turner divorce is confirmed. I know, you were all waiting for word on this one.
My household is dealing with not having a washing machine at the moment. Any recommendations as we shop for a new or decent used one? My appliance guy said nowadays it’s best to use front-loaders, because top-loading machines don’t have nearly as many springs as they used to and they get off-balance very easily.
SOTD: The Rolling Stones - Gimme Shelter