Saturday, June 24, 2006

Gardy isn't the only one who doesn't understand bullpens

This is not an exact quote but it’s very close. It was said after we see Tom Gordon pitching in a non-save situation. It was said on Baseball Tonight by Jeff Brantley.

“He brought his closer in to pitch the 10th, on the road in a tie game.” He said in a tone as if the Charlie Manuel was letting a small child sit in his lap while he was driving. He then said. “If he can’t manage his bullpen any better than that he won’t win.”

Charlie Manuel brought Gordon into the game in the bottom of the 10th with score tied and with Boston’s best hitters coming up, including Ortiz. Ortiz eventually hits a 2 run homerun off of Gordon. Brantley is mad at the manager for the loss. I think Ortiz had a little to do with Philly losing the game. I heard that he is a pretty good hitter.

If Manuel wants to win he did the best move he could do in that situation. For some reason Brantley thinks closers can only pitch when they have a lead on the road, that the best way to win on the road is to pitch your 2nd, 3rd or even 4th best reliever in the closest, tensest situations. I consider an extra-inning tie game more tense than a 1 run game.

Why should a manager only pitcher his closer in save situations? I do not know. The only reason I can think of is to pad your closers stats. That is not the manager’s job. His job is to win. To do that you want you’re best players playing at a time when each run means more to a win than it did earlier in the game.

Think about it, its 3-3 in the 10th inning, you are the road team so any run ends the game. Wouldn’t you want your best pitcher in at this time? Yes, and Gordon is the Phillies best pitcher. This year he is pitching great.

Gordon 2 2 20 30 19 5 5 2 9 40 11.7 0.91 1.47

He is also the Phillies best chance against Ortiz. Gordon has been pitching better vs. lefthanders this year and has equal splits over the last 3 years.

vs. Left 51 8 0 0 1 4 5 0 23 0 0 0.157 0.232 0.216 0.448
vs. Right 57 11 1 0 1 3 4 1 17 2 0 0.193 0.258 0.263 0.521

Brantley wants to save closers only for save situations, at a time when their value is actually less. There is no room for error in a tie game. With just a 1 run lead there is a little room for error. The pitcher can give up 1 run and his team can still win. In a tie game this is obviously impossible.

I’ll put some numbers to this situation and look at the situation simplistically. Lets say you have closer “A” who allows a run scored on him in 15% of his innings. Then reliever “B” allows a run in 25% of his innings and reliever “C” allows runs in 35% of his innings.

It is now extra innings and the games it tied. You are the away team. Who do you pitch?

If you pitch A you have 15% chance of losing, B you have a 25% chance and C it is 35%. So pitching your best reliever in this situation gives you the best chance of not losing, which in turn gives a better chance of winning.

Let B and C pitch when there is more room for error. If you have a lead and they give that lead up in a save situation you still have a chance to take the lead again in the next inning. You don’t have that opportunity if just 1 run is given up in a tie game.

It annoys me that Brantley was so angry at Manuel for doing the right move. This guy is on national TV saying things that are idiotic. I wish I got paid to say stupid things. My wife claims I do it all of the time, for free.


Post a Comment

<< Home