While the Tigers have the day, and possibly most of the week off, as they wait to see if the St. Louis Cardinals’ COVID-19 situation is contained, we’ll look back at a hectic weekend of news from around baseball. Most of it isn’t good.
Shohei Ohtani’s return from UCL surgery is already in danger. The Mets filed a social media missing person report on outfielder Yoenis Cespedes on Sunday, despite apparently knowing he was in no danger. This scared the heck out of people briefly, before it came out that Cespedes has decided to opt-out of the season, and it seems the Mets front office was the last to know.
Here at home, the Tigers are off to a solid .500 start, but need to start making their own breaks. Reliever Tyler Alexander gave us something to cheer about on Sunday, despite a pair of losses to the Cincinnati Reds, by setting a new MLB record for consecutive strikeouts in a relief appearance with nine straight. He also tied Doug Fister for the American League all-time record in the process.
Tyler Alexander has our attention
Tyler Alexander’s incredible record-setting relief appearance on Sunday is one of the top stories around the baseball world on a quiet Monday with a limited slate of games. Both Evan Woodbery of MLive, and Cody Stavenhagen at The Athletic Detroit, took at look at the spectacular outing, and speculate that Alexander may have earned another look in the rotation as a result.
In other Tigers news, The Freep looks at Casey Mize’s chances of getting a start soon, Lynn Henning took at look at the rise of prospect Bryant Packard for the The Detroit News, 2020 top draft picks Spencer Torkelson and Dillon Dingler are getting a crash course in pro pitching, while some are jumping the gun just a little bit in declaring the Tigers’ bullpen a dependable dominant unit.
Tributes to Jamie Samuelsen
Detroit lost a good one over the weekend, as long-time radio personality and sports broadcaster, Jamie Samuelsen died at the age of 48 from colon cancer. Tributes to his life and influence on family, friends, and the local industry have been pouring in. None more poignant that those of the co-workers and friends who knew him best. Bob Wojnowski and Will Burchfield each penned particularly beautiful remembrances.
Peace and good memories to all of Jamie’s friends and family members from all of us here at Bless You Boys.
Short summer camp may be getting pitchers hurt
Spring training is a notorious time of the year for pitcher health. As players stretch their arms out and build strength, invariably, some of them to do not make it through the build-up phase. Hence the inevitable spring culling of arms.
This season, things are even more complicated by the partial spring training, followed by almost four months of waiting with wildly varying access to training facilities and partners among pitchers. We’ve already seen Justin Verlander and a host of other pitchers hit the IL with “forearm strains” which are generally code for elbow injuries.
In particular, on Saturday, Joe Maddon, manager of the Los Angeles Angels, who have a rather miserable track record of keeping pitchers healthy, let Shohei Ohtani throw 42 pitches in an inning on Saturday as his velocity collapsed. The Japanese star reported discomfort in his surgically repaired right arm. Great work all around.
Travis Sawchik at The Ringer investigates to see if there is anything truly unique going on, or if this is just the usual cost of doing business as a pitcher.
Only Yo knows
The New York Mets don’t do well in relationships. There’s a long-standing tradition of confusion, bad PR, and back-biting that transcends any particular general manager. On Sunday, another round of LOLMets was played as the team publicly reported that outfielder Yoenis Cespedes had gone missing. The team sent security to his hotel room to look for him, and found Cespedes and all his belongs gone.
While social media flipped out with concerns over the outfielder’s safety, the Mets were apparently realizing what had happened and followed with a second announcement to make clear they had no reason to suspect he was in any danger. Finally it emerged that Cespedes had opted out of the season and many of his teammates were already aware. His front office was not. Coming on the heels of the mysterious leg injury that kept him out last season and led to wild speculation, presumably both parties have had enough of one another. It’s behind The Athletic paywall, but Marc Carig does a nice job of portioning out the blame for the communication breakdown.
Around the horn
Our friend David Laurila has a fascinating pair of interviews with Seattle Mariners’ Director of Player Development, Andy McKay for FanGraphs. Part two can be found here. See who is hot in terms of batted balls over the first 10 games.
Debate continues to rage about both the overall responsibility of playing major league baseball right now, and the specific strengths and weaknesses of MLB’s policies. Of course, the blame game is also an extremely popular topic as well.
Over at FiveThirtyEight, Travis Sawchik looks at the potential effect of going a year without baseball on aspiring young players. They also consider the records that could fall—asterisks apply— in a 60-game season.
Aaron Judge is flat-out mashing so far at a near-record pace. Nick Pollack at The Pitcher List reviews Sunday’s starting pitching action. Alex Drain at Tigers Minor League Report investigates whether high draft picks actually correlate to long-term organizational success.