Sunday night the Chicago Cubs and New York Yankees will wrap up their three-game interleague series at Wrigley Field. The Yankees will be trying for the sweep after winning Friday's (NYY 3, CHC 2) and Saturday's (NYY 11, CHC 6) games.
Following Saturday's loss, a loss in which starter Brett Anderson did not make it out of the first inning, Cubs manager Joe Maddon said his team has been victimized by tight strike zones within the last week. That has him thinking about an automatic strike zone. Here's what Maddon told ESPN's Jesse Rogers:
"Once again the umpire had a ball [tight] zone," Maddon said after a 3-2 loss to the New York Yankees on Friday. "That's twice this week we've been victimized by really tight strike zones."
Maddon is intrigued by using technology behind the plate but isn't close to being convinced either way.
"I'm really vacillating on this right now," he said before Saturday's game. "A lot of what's occurring right now, maybe some umpires are umpiring to get a good score just based on how they are being evaluated; whereas, there's a group umpiring the good old-fashioned way, so there's still some inconsistencies with that. I don't know the answer. I'm trying to figure out the answers myself."
Vacillating? There's your word of the day. That means Maddon is going back and forth on the idea of automated balls and strikes.
Here, via Baseball Savant, is the strike zone home plate umpire Alan Porter called for Cubs pitchers during Saturday night's game according to MLB's Trackman system:
There are clearly a few pitches on the inner half to lefties that were called balls despite being in the strike zone, and I assume those are the pitches Maddon was not happy about. At the same time, the Cubs also got some friendly calls down below the strike zone.
That all said, Maddon wasn't accusing the umpires of having a bias against the Cubs. He just doesn't sound happy each umpire has his own unique strike zone, and that you never really know what kind of zone you're going to get on a given day. Could be a tight zone, could be a huge zone. Who knows?
Automated balls and strikes sounds like a great idea, though MLB is probably years away from having the technically to implement such a system. It'll have to be perfected, tested, and tested again. And then MLB and the umpires union will have to come to an agreement. Maddon, for what it's worth,. I'm not so sure abut that, but I digress.
The Cubs have lost two straight games to the Yankees and six of their last 10 games overall, so Maddon was likely venting a little frustration following Saturday's game. His team will snap out of his recent funk soon though. They're too talented, regardless of the size of the strike zone.