Little did Tom Verducci know that his words would cause such a firestorm on the internet. The Fox Sports 1 analyst made a seemingly innocuous comment about Michael Fulmer’s delivery during Saturday’s Tigers-Angels game — excuse me, Saturday’s Mike Everitt showcase — would raise so many questions about pitcher deliveries and whether they put someone at risk for injury.
First off, all deliveries put pitchers at risk for injury. The human arm wasn’t designed to throw an object 90-plus miles per hour for hours on end. Verducci’s argument was that Fulmer’s high-effort, crossfire motion puts him at higher risk for injury than some others. Both he and manager Brad Ausmus downplayed those concerns after the game.
Then, the real fun started. ESPN’s Keith Law delivered a few #wellactually tweets that poked more holes in the “red flags” assertion.
I'm not saying Fulmer won't get hurt - even pitchers with great deliveries get hurt - but these 'concerns' aren't based in fact.— keithlaw (@keithlaw) August 28, 2016
While Law didn’t go into specifics — one would imagine it’s difficult to explain exactly why Fulmer’s delivery isn’t an issue in just 140 characters — it’s worth noting that these “red flags” aren’t a surefire predictor that someone will (or will not) inevitably get hurt.
@keithlaw every year we keep hearing about Chris Sale's delivery.— Harold Dieterle (@harolddieterle) August 28, 2016
one of the most violent red-flag-filled I've scouted. And yet, here he is, laughing at all of us who predicted doom https://t.co/1aaqIdLiTh— keithlaw (@keithlaw) August 28, 2016
And if you’re still a little worried about Fulmer? Remember that the Tigers took a chance on another promising young arm with supposed durability concerns five years ago. That Max Scherzer fella turned out alright.
How are we still in this playoff race?
The Tigers are 12-13 in August and have lost series to the Mariners, Royals, and Angels. By some miracle, they have not lost any ground in the AL Central race in the past four weeks. They were one game out of the second AL Wild Card on Monday, August 1, and sit just two games back of the Baltimore Orioles on the morning of August 29.
While the Tigers have baffled at times, other teams have been just as perplexing. The Indians, Orioles, and Astros have all played at .500 or worse in August while teams like the Red Sox and Blue Jays haven’t been good enough to pull away. The Royals are the only team that has gotten hot, but they need to maintain some of that momentum for the next month-plus to jump the few teams in their way.
The Dodgers traded A.J. Ellis and everyone went nuts
Veteran catcher A.J. Ellis was one of three pieces traded to the Philadelphia Phillies last week in exchange for better veteran catcher Carlos Ruiz. Both Ellis and Ruiz were beloved in their respective cities, but every reaction to this trade thus far has focused on why the Dodgers would part with Ellis with only a few weeks left in the season. I mean...
Ellis described Kershaw as "shocked" by the trade. The two men wept together, he said.— Andy McCullough (@McCulloughTimes) August 25, 2016
One theory involves the roster gymnastics that the Dodgers will have to do in the next few weeks when several players come off the 60-day DL. Others have focused on the Dodgers’ short-sighted front office not thinking about clubhouse chemistry while ignoring the fact that Yasiel Puig is gallivanting around Triple-A right now. My theory is a bit more complicated, as it involves several parts.
- Carlos Ruiz is a lot better than A.J. Ellis
Complex, I know. In terms of WAR, Ruiz is three times the player Ellis has been throughout their respective careers. This season, Ruiz holds a 1.6 WAR edge in fewer games played. Ruiz also hits lefties quite well, something the Dodgers have struggled with in 2016. Forming a platoon with incumbent backstop Yasmani Grandal also gives him more rest. Grandal has caught 30 of his team’s last 38 games.