There have been a lot of calls for robo-umps this season after watching some of the more gratuitously awful strike calls in the game. Umpires are missing obvious strikes, or obvious balls, potentially changing the outcome of the game. While the usual suspects, such as Joe West, Angel Hernandez, or C.B. Bucknor have been prominent, other umpires have joined in on the action. Texas Rangers pitcher Kolby Allard learned that the hard way on Tuesday.
Allard fired an 0-2 fastball to J.P. Crawford with two outs in the bottom of the first, with the pitch traveling right down the heart of the plate for what would have seemingly been strike three. However, umpire Malachi Moore was the only person in the stadium to think otherwise, calling the pitch a ball.
Texas Rangers pitcher Kolby Allard victimized by worst missed strike of year
Maybe Moore was fooled by the pitch. Catcher Jonah Heim had set up on the inner part of the plate, and needed to reach across to corral the pitch right in the center of the strike zone. Or maybe Moore had decided to create his own strike zone in the moment.
In the end, the missed call did not impact Allard too badly. Crawford lined out to center on the following pitch, ending the inning. Unlike other instances where blown calls can lead to a big inning, or a pitcher throwing a lot more pitches than necessary, Allard was able to avoid any such problems.
But it is also one of the more obvious signs that the league needs to do something about the umpires. No one expects the umpire to get every ball and strike call correct, especially as some borderline pitches can be a subject of interpretation. But missing a pitch right down the middle is another matter entirely.
We have a new candidate for the worst call of the season. Fortunately, this missed strike did not cause issues for the Texas Rangers and Kolby Allard.