Before we begin, a brief note: Carson Cistulli will be celebrating in the French style for the next week (that sounds dirtier than I meant it) and will not be able to note things on the daily. As such, he’s foolishly enlisted several other writers from across the ___Graphs family of websites to fill in. He assured us that there is no pressure, as no one will read these things anyway. Anyway, the Daily Notes, for better or for worse, will probably be slightly different from that to which you are accustomed for the rest of this week. And now, the noting:
- Tonight we would have been privileged to watch Jose Fernandez make his 29th start and marvel at the fact that the Marlins were so unbelievably right that he could handle the jump from A-ball to the Majors (leaving aside questions of service time, which are unseemly). Instead, now that Fernandez has been officially shut down, we will see a 25 year old Sam Dyson, who I have never heard of but who I am assured is a real human male, start his first Major League game.
Let’s resolve to harbor no ill will toward young Mr. Dyson, who succeeded on what I’m going to call craftiness and guile in the minor leagues, despite striking out fewer than five batters per nine innings. Based on this alone, it’s unlikely Dyson gets more than what would have been Fernandez’s last two turns before he is DFAed this winter and is invariably signed by the Minnesota Twins.
But back to Fernandez. Throughout baseball history, successful innovation has been quick to catch on around the game. The curveball, the fielder’s glove, the three-man rotation, platooning, the four-man rotation, integration, the five-man rotation, the closer, etc. Monkeys saw, and monkeys did. Teams adapted to the new paradigm or they died. Yet, here are the Marlins following the Nationals’ lead in shutting down their young ace with more of the season left to play. The Twins did the same with Kyle Gibson (though that, also, could be described as a mercy killing), and the Mets were planning to do it with Matt Harvey, before his perfect elbow perfectly exploded. Where is the evidence that this works? At least the five-man rotation had the Big Red Machine and the closer had Rich Gossage to validate them. All this new strategy seems to have is Stephen Strasburg, whose forearm is sore as we speak, and a lot of “I dunno, I heard other people are doing it.”
Bill Baer does an excellent job of exploring this idea over on Hardball Talk. Intuitively, sure, it makes sense that pitching less would protect pitchers more, especially in light of all the evidence that demonstrates that overuse leads to injury. And I certainly would rather teams err on the side of caution, and acknowledge they have a much better idea of what their pitchers are feeling than I do. But as Harvard-trained sports physician Marcus Elliott notes, we’re bumbling around in the dark in many ways. It’s going to look awfully funny if and when we find out that the only thing we prevented by artificially limiting the number of starts an at risk pitcher makes was our own joy at getting to see the game’s best young pitchers more often.
- Johnny Cueto last threw a pitch in anger on June 28, when he was removed after re-straining a lat muscle in his right side. In all, this will be just his 10th start on the year, but it has turned out that the Reds haven’t really needed him all that much.
With Tony Cingrani fighting back spasms again, however, Cueto is going to rejoin the rotation tonight without so much as a rehab start, since all the minor leagues have closed up shop for the year. On the bright side, he gets to face the closest thing to a minor league team at the major league level, in the Houston Astros.
If Cueto’s healthy and effective, and if Cingrani can recover in time, it leaves the Reds with a pretty interesting dilemma as they try to set their rotation for the postseason. Latos and Bailey are locks, but if you can definitively figure out who to turn to between Bronson Arroyo, Mike Leake, Cingrani, and Cueto, you’re a better man, woman, or child than me.
- Wil Myers has been quietly excellent for the Rays, and will deservedly get the American League Rookie of the Year award. He also does incredibly naughty things to a baseball, as he did yesterday against Twins lefty Pedro Hernandez:
That ball traveled some 440 feet. Note the aw shucks look on Myers’s face on those replays and think about how hard it must be to remain humble when you can do that.
And, finally, your NERD scores: