Baseball: Pitch Counts & Match-ups

Baseball: Pitch Counts & Match-ups

Nation­als starter John Lan­nan: He deserved bet­ter. (MLB.com)

I watched last night’s Wash­ing­ton Nation­alsBoston Red Sox game with a Red Sox fan named Hank, whose reac­tions may be of inter­est to base­ball fans in gen­er­al, as a sug­ges­tion of how the game is man­aged by some folks these days.

Top sec­ond, Nats 1, Sox 0

Hank: “Your team looks pret­ty good. I think they’ll win.”

RL: “Just wait.”

Bot­tom fourth, Nats 2, Sox 2

Hank: “Bases loaded, one out. Lan­nan the pitcher’s up next. You need runs now. Her­nan­dez is fast and the infield’s back—why not squeeze?”

RL: “Our man­agern­ev­er squeezes. Doesn’t teach bunting.”

Hank: “Hit and run then?”

RL: “Doesn’t do that much, either. As far as I can tell, he doesn’t stress base run­ning.”

(Her­nan­dez grounds out, Lan­nan strikes out, ral­ly over.)

Hank: “Inex­cus­able. No imag­i­na­tion. I see why this is a last place team.”

Bot­tom 6th, Nats 3, Sox 3

Hank: “They’ve come fight­ing back, they still have a good shot.”

RL: “Dis­as­ter doesn’t usu­al­ly strike until the 7th, 8th or 9th.”

Top 7th, Sox 3, Nats 3

Hank: “Why is your man­ag­er pulling Lan­nan? He’s just struck out Drew….”

RL: “Over 100 pitch­es. Sur­prised he brought Lan­nan back this inning. The skip­per wor­ships pitch counts and match-ups, regard­less of the sit­u­a­tion or indi­vid­ual. Youk­lis is up and bats right-hand­ed, so he’s call­ing for a right-han­der.”

Hank: “Tavarez was pret­ty rough when he pitched for us…”

RL: “And still is…”

(The inevitable error puts Youk on, who goes to third on Bay’s sin­gle while Dunn’s throw allows Bay to take sec­ond. Youk soon scores and the Sox lead.)

Hank: “He’s bring­ing in Vil­lone—good move.”

RL: “In this case his knee-jerk match-up move is right—not because Ells­bury bats left-hand­ed but because Villone’s far bet­ter than Tavarez.”

(Side retired.)

Top 8th, Sox 4, Nats 3

Hank: “Why’s he pulling Vil­lone already?”

RL: “Match-ups again. Pedroia’s right-hand­ed, so in comes Wells. Just watch….”

Hank: “Two walks. Wells is gone but too late…”

RL: “Just in time for Colome.ERA about 8. Keep watch­ing…”

(Four hits lat­er, the game is gone.)

Top 9th, Sox 10, Nats 3

Hank: “So who’s this Han­ra­han guy?”

RL: “You are now about to enjoy our pièce de résis­tance. He was our clos­er, which was a joke. He’s blown five or six games. He’s good for at least anoth­er run.”

Bot­tom 9th, Sox 11, Nats 3

Hank: “I don’t under­stand your man­ag­er. He seems to stand there like a deer in the head­lights. No ani­ma­tion, no fire. Bound to rub off on the play­ers.”

RL: “Some Nats fans still defend him, say­ing it’s the play­ers’ fault.”

Hank: “Not entire­ly. Too many inex­plic­a­ble and illog­i­cal moves. Pulling pitch­ers who are doing fair­ly well or yank­ing them strict­ly for match-ups is not sit­u­a­tion­al man­ag­ing. Pitch­ers con­tribute to errors when they walk so many bat­ters that the field­ers start stand­ing on their heels.”

RL: “Can’t argue with you.”

Hank: “What is with the own­ers? Don’t they see that this man­ag­er is killing them? Sure­ly they have their invest­ment to con­sid­er.”

I didn’t know what to tell my friend, except that he was watch­ing for the first time what I’ve been watch­ing all year.

Maybe some­one else has an idea.

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