If you know me in real life you know how much I adore Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On” album which turned 50 last month. Beautiful, poignant, relevant to this day, this album has been on my turntable more times than I can count, including as I type this. Theme for the week set, thanks to Marvin.
What’s going on with the Angels? The team has won 11 of the last 16 games to pull within 2 games of .500 and 5.5 games back of a Wild Card.
Last week I said they needed to show us something and they reeled off a 5-2 record. That increased our playoff odds nearly 50%, from 10% to 15% Cue the Jim Carry meme.
7 of the next 10 games are against bottom feeders in Arizona and Detroit. If ever there was a time to make a charge it is now. Hopefully they don’t go full Buttercup.
Of course all of this damage is being done without the help of Mike Trout who is happy with his progress but unsure of his timeline.
Talk about an embarrassment of riches. Mike Trout goes down and we STILL get to watch the best baseball player in the world. I was there Tuesday to watch Ohtani’s longest ever HR live and he’ll take the mound tonight. His walk rate as a pitcher has improved dramatically which could be bad news for the rest of the league.
While Ohtani is walking fewer guys than ever, Alex Cobb is striking out hitters at a higher rate than usual. Is that sustainable? If you don’t have The Athletic, the answer is probably.
Jose Iglesias has looked good at the plate and on defense lately. I’m starting to warm to the idea of extending him for a couple of years and focusing on pitching next off season.
To me this team is night and day different with Max Stassi behind the dish. He came back with a vengeance this week.
What’s going on around baseball? One topic is dominating conversation: sticky stuff.
Fangraphs does its usual excellent work showing how spin rate increases are screwing over hitters. It is crazy to think that the average MLB pitcher now has a spin rate that would be considered elite just three years ago.
If you missed SI’s article from last week, which was linked earlier this week, make sure you read it. That’s the longform piece for this week.
Hitters have mental libraries built up over thousands of pitches seen. When they see a pitch they have about a blink of the eye to decide to swing and where. When that pitch now dips or cuts an extra inch the hitter is screwed.
Just like with steroids the problem is widespread but there are obvious faces. Two of them saw significant drops in spin rate last week after MLB threatened a crackdown. Josh Donaldson doesn’t think that’s a coincidence, and neither do most fans.
Gerrit Cole couldn’t have done a worse job of answering questions about his use of the junk. He then went full Yankee and blamed the scrutiny on the jersey he wears. Don’t forget fellow Yankee Corey Kluber was named by former Angels clubhouse attendant Brian Harkins as a customer of his sticky mix.
Uber douche Trevor Bauer says he wants a level playing field when it comes to enforcement of any new crackdown. In short, he cheated massively to get his new contract and wants his numbers to come to Earth at the same rate relative to his peers so he’s set up for his next one.
Ultimately baseball needs to do something and there are a wide variety of options available: complete ban, pine tar rag near the mound, MLB approved goop, etc. Personally I think a complete ban on stickiness would be so drastic that guys would cheat and nobody would call each other out. MLB approved goop would lead to guys brining whatever they currently use out and saying it is the approved stuff. Give me an out in the open source of tackiness with a complete ban on anything located on the players. I’ll take the pine tar rag near the mound and a quick ejection for anything else found on a player or ball.
Talk about setting himself up, Alex Cobb says it is unfair for pitchers to use the sticky stuff and that he knows pitchers who have elevated their careers doing it. You have to assume a statement like this is made by a guy with no skeletons in his closet or it can really come back to bite.
Taking the brunt of all the sticky stuff are the D’back’s hitting coaches, including former Angels hitting coach Eric Hinske.
What’s Going On down of the farm?
Make sure to catch Turk’s Teeth’s recap each week. Some interesting arms might be emerging. It posts each Monday and will be pinned to the front page for two days.
Hope you enjoy the links. Please post anything I missed down below.