The Rundown: Reds Claim Donn Roach Off Waivers, Fowler Getting Some Tough Luck With Strike Zone, Could We See MLB Expansion?

No Cubs baseball for a couple days. Pretty rough, but it’s a good feeling to know that we will likely see the Cubs make a run at a playoff spot in the second half of the season.

They may not get there, but they should be right in the thick of things. For what it’s worth, I like their chances of getting the second wild card spot.

With the All-Star break in effect, the Cubs news is pretty slim. Didn’t think I’d ever be leading a post off with Donn Roach news, but here I am.

The Reds have claimed Roach off waivers, according to Tommy Birch. Roach was designated for assignment last week, and I wasn’t really expecting him to clear waivers after pitching well in Triple-A this year.

I’ve had an inexplicable soft spot for Roach during his short stint with the Cubs organization. Probably because of his unique name; I’m not really sure.

In the end, he only got one shot to start with the Cubs, and he managed to pitch 3.1 innings and give up four runs. So long, Donn. You’ll be missed.

Fowler’s struggles

Dexter Fowler has had a tough year with the Cubs, especially since the middle of June. And if you feel like you’ve noticed Fowler taking a number of pitches for strikes that clearly were balls — you’d be right.

Jeff Sullivan from Fangraphs takes a look at the difference between hitters’ expected strikes and actual strikes, with a specific focus on Fowler.

Sullivan concludes that Fowler has had the fifth most “pitcher-friendly” zone in the league, with 28 more actual strikes than expected strikes. This puts him in the sixth percentile, compared with ranking in the 28th percentile last year.

This is a significant difference for Fowler this year.

He has also tied for second in the league for taking a called third strike outside the zone.

Jesse Rogers recently wrote about Fowler being frustrated lately, and it’s easy to see why after Sullivan’s analysis.

Obviously if Fowler continues to have balls outside the zone called strikes, he’s going to continue to expand his zone and swing at bad pitches.

Hopefully he sees an adjustment in the other direction, and starts getting some better calls. Otherwise it could be a long second half of the season for Fowler. The Cubs desperately need him to get on base at the top of the order, so I’m really hoping that adjustment happens.

Other notes

* Commissioner Rob Manfred said we could see more teams in MLB at some point, writes Jerry Crasnick. What do you think? I’m happy with the number of teams, but I suppose it would be cool to see a team back in Montreal, which Manfred said is enthusiastic about bringing baseball back.

* The Orioles have designated LHP Wesley Wright for assignment. Wright was fairly solid for the Cubs last year, but hasn’t been able to stay healthy this year. Maybe they’ll try to go after him again?


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