On Monday evening in a Mets/Braves game, the worst-case scenario of any game happened so quickly you might have blinked and missed it. Braves pitcher Jacob Webb missed a pitch outside of the zone and hit Pillar directly in the face, avoiding his helmet entirely. Pillar hit the ground immediately, blood clearly visible (I will not be sharing the video here), but was able to walk off the field on his own.
On Tuesday, Pillar reportedly showed up in the Mets clubhouse asking, “Am I in the lineup today, or what?” In reality, Pillar has been diagnosed with multiple facial fractures and is unlikely to be in a lineup in the near future. He showed off his bruised face in some photos as the Mets warmed up, but looked to be in good shape considering what happened to him only the night before.
There’s not a lot of commentary to be had here about beanballs, as Webb’s pitch was obviously just a mistake and in no way intentional (as was evident given his crestfallen appearance after Pillar was walked off the field). It’s just one of those terrifying moments that can happen in baseball, and it’s just a good thing Pillar is okay.
Here are the big stories following the Pillar hit by pitch:
- Will Laws believes we need to take this as a sign that MLB must address how it treats hit by pitch encounters.
- Steve Gardner shares Webb’s perspective after the incident, and how it’s hard for him to move forward after hurting someone so badly.
- The Athletic staff review the incident in an unlocked article.
The other major story we followed on Tuesday was Tony La Russa absolutely shoving Yermin Mercedes after Mercedes hit a home run on a 3-0 count during Monday’s White Sox game against the Minnesota Twins. The Twins had turned to beloved utilityman Willians Astudillo in relief, and Mercedes saw an opportunity and took it.
On Tuesday La Russa held a press conference and dug himself the deepest hole possible by clinging to the unwritten rules and calling Mercedes a “clueless” rookie who would face “consequences” for his actions. Yes, you read that right. Mercedes would face consequences for helping his team score runs.
Here are some of the commentary pieces on that story:
- Madeline Coleman looks at how Tony La Russa is using the unwritten rules of baseball against his own player.
- Jesse Rogers breaks down the comments made by La Russa to express his disappointment.
- For his part, Mercedes doesn’t think he did anything wrong, shares Scott Merkin.
- James Fagan shares how this disconnect is going to put La Russa and Mercedes at odds. (The Athletic subscription required.)
- You’re really going to argue about this one, Rocco?
Sara Sanchez will have a view on this incident here at BCB coming up at 9 a.m. CT.
Now onto the rest of the links!
- In my absolute favorite piece of the week thus far, Eno Sarris spent a LOT of time looking at the makeup of wooden bats, and the resulting piece is fascinating. (The Athletic subscription required.)
- Ben Clemens dives REALLY deep into looking at slider usage this season.
- You don’t need to tell Jay Jaffe that the Dodgers signing of Albert Pujols is confusing, but he might be able to tell you why it makes sense.
- An independent league team has rebranded themselves in honor of the Kansas City Monarchs and Ken Rosenthal shares the story of what that choice meant. (The Athletic subscription required.)
- We’re see a lot more strikeouts and a lot fewer home runs, so Bradford Doolittle explains baseball’s newest deadball era.
- Chelsea Janes also explores MLB’s recent offensive woes.
- Is Shohei Ohtani the best player in baseball right now? He certainly has the most home runs in baseball.
- We are, inexplicably, a quarter of the way through the season, so Michael Baumann breaks down the rankings of the first quarter of play.
- It seems like only yesterday we were debating the supposed dirty slide of Manny Machado, but don’t worry, Buck Showalter shared his opinions about it with Dennis Lin. (The Athletic subscription required.)
- Max Rieper thinks it’s high time we review the review system.
- Scott Olster looks at the hubbub being created over the A’s potential new stadium site.
- Rod Carew shared a deeply personal story via Twitter (read the whole thread).
To celebrate today's release of the paperback version of my book One Tough Out I’ve decided to share some of the story with you in a thread— Rod Carew (@RodCarew_29) May 18, 2021
And tomorrow will be a better day than today, Buster. Make it so.