With the constant evolution of technology in baseball, there is increasing momentum for using machinery to call balls and strikes.
There’s a superimposed strike zone on every television broadcast. Every time a ball misses that box but is called a strike, fans of the batting team complain. Similarly, every time a ball that seemingly hits the corner is called a ball, fans of the team in the field cry “foul.”
Kansas City Royals manager Mike Matheny believes it’s inevitable that a computer-called strike zone is coming, but he’s not happy about it.
Matheny’s Royals and the Cincinnati Reds conclude their three-game series with the rubber match Wednesday afternoon. Matheny will send Brady Singer (3-6, 4.74 ERA) to the mound, while Reds manager David Bell will be looking for Sonny Gray (1-4, 3.27 ERA) to get the job done.
The Reds will attempt to rebound from a tough loss Tuesday night. They led 6-1 going to the eighth inning and 6-3 heading into the ninth. However, the Royals rallied for four runs in the ninth, capped by a Salvador Perez drive to the wall for a walk-off single.
Matheny hopes Singer can find the strike zone without the help of a computer when he starts against Cincinnati for the first time in his career. He lasted just three innings in his most recent outing, Friday against the Minnesota Twins, because of a high pitch count. He gave up three runs (two earned) on five hits, with four strikeouts and two walks.
Singer is averaging nearly four walks per nine innings and more than 18 pitches per inning. That has led to him averaging just above 4 2/3 innings in his 17 starts.
He had three ineffective outings during a recent stretch when the Royals went 12 games without a quality start.
Gray is set to make the 200th start of his major league career. In his first start since missing four weeks due to a right groin strain, Gray allowed one run on five hits in five innings Friday in a no-decision against the Chicago Cubs.
“I thought he had a really good fastball and located it well,” Bell said. “A nice breaking ball, especially early. He just had a real good plan against a good lineup.”
Matheny, a 13-year major-leaguer who played 1,285 of his 1,305 career games as a catcher, doesn’t want the human element to disappear from the game.
“There’s a large part of me that’s more of a purist than that,” he said. “There’s a skill-set that’s going to be taken away from the game. There are a lot of (catchers) that work their whole lives to learn how to make marginal pitches look better.
“We always talk about using technology as long as it doesn’t get in the way of the game. It already has, and this is another step from that perspective.
“I’m not in favor of it, but I do think it’s inevitable. Nobody cares about my vote either, just for the record.”
–Field Level Media