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Thursday, February 18, 2021

Blake Snell: I’ve Got Some Things to Say

It just triggered my mind and put all sorts of uncertainty in my head.

It absolutely messed up my thought process.

If I don’t see that, and I go out there for that inning, I’m still totally locked in and focused on the guys coming up and the game plan. There is zero chance of my mind wavering.

Literally zero chance.

Instead, here’s what’s going through my head: Dude, please don’t give up a hit right now. Just get these guys out. Whatever you do, don’t give up a hit! I went from being like, These dudes cannot touch me, to Please don’t get a hit off me because I’m going to get yanked after even like one weak hit up the middle.

Seeing our guy warming up like that ... I’m just being real: It wrecked my whole rhythm, everything I had built up over the entire game.

And, then, well … you know the rest. An hour or so later the Dodgers are world champions.

Season’s over. End of story.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: February 18, 2021 at 09:36 PM | 39 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: blake snell

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   1. Mayor Blomberg Posted: February 18, 2021 at 10:36 PM (#6005752)
10/10 burritos?
   2. Russlan thinks deGrom is da bomb Posted: February 18, 2021 at 11:04 PM (#6005757)
Tampa Bay Rays
@RaysBaseball
Feb 11, 2021
Replying to @Wendys
Go ahead, Wendy. Absolutely roast us. Keep it spicy like your nuggs.

Wendy's
@Wendys
We're surprised you didn't pull your social media manager in middle of writing that great tweet. #NationalRoastDay


This was pretty from Wendy's Twitter account, which can be pretty savage.
   3. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: February 18, 2021 at 11:47 PM (#6005762)
He used the word “bro” three times without the slightest whiff of irony.
   4. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: February 19, 2021 at 09:55 AM (#6005787)
10/10 burritos?


I am going to go out on a limb and bet that San Diego has better burritos than Tampa Bay.
   5. puck Posted: February 19, 2021 at 10:53 AM (#6005801)
I suppose it's possible Tampa's best burrito shop is better than San Diego's. But the top 100, yeah. Have we at least gotten to the point where every city of (what size?) has 100 non-Taco bell restaurants in the top 100 burrito list? C'mon America.
   6. puck Posted: February 19, 2021 at 10:56 AM (#6005802)
RE: Snell: would it have helped if the manager had let him know the plan? Relievers have tended to say knowing their role helps them.

   7. The Gary DiSarcina Fan Club (JAHV) Posted: February 19, 2021 at 01:57 PM (#6005853)
I suppose it's possible Tampa's best burrito shop is better than San Diego's.


It is not possible.
   8. bunyon Posted: February 19, 2021 at 02:01 PM (#6005856)
Tampa's best may be better than San Diego's worst. You could at least have an argument.
   9. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: February 19, 2021 at 02:06 PM (#6005858)
RE: Snell: would it have helped if the manager had let him know the plan?
Or had a burrito waiting for him in the dugout?
   10. Itchy Row Posted: February 19, 2021 at 02:17 PM (#6005861)
According to tacobell.com, the best burrito in Tampa is available at Taco Bell®.
Are you on the hunt for the best burrito in Tampa, FL? Look no further than your local Taco Bell®!
   11. Howie Menckel Posted: February 19, 2021 at 02:44 PM (#6005866)
was not a Snell fan before, but I absolutely love this.

iirc, dopey manager Cash (aka his overloards in suits) had decided BEFORE THE GAME EVEN STARTED that Snell would get a quick hook absolutely independent of how well he was pitching.

no need for Cash to even watch the game. he could sit in the clubhouse and watch a "Real Housewives" episode or whatever, and someone can just stop by when the third time in the order arrives so he can pretend to be managing.

if more pitchers are like Snell, maybe more managers will have to manage.
   12. reech Posted: February 19, 2021 at 02:51 PM (#6005867)
"Hey Blake, You're going 6 tonite- leave it all out there"
makes more sense than
No info and Snell has to conserve energy thinking he'll go longer.

Though- he pitched great regardless.
   13. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: February 19, 2021 at 02:53 PM (#6005869)
iirc, dopey manager Cash (aka his overloards in suits) had decided BEFORE THE GAME EVEN STARTED that Snell would get a quick hook absolutely independent of how well he was pitching.
I remember getting furious at Joe Maddon for pulling Hendricks in Game 7 in 2016 for exactly the same reason, because I had an emotional investment in that game. But IIRC someone ran the numbers after the Snell game and showed pretty compellingly that the fact that a pitcher is "dealing" through X innings on a given day has pretty much no predictive power for his performance in upcoming innings.
   14. Steve Parris, Je t'aime Posted: February 19, 2021 at 02:58 PM (#6005870)
RE: Snell: would it have helped if the manager had let him know the plan? Relievers have tended to say knowing their role helps them.

Snell's longest outing in the regular season was 5.2 IP. He made 6 postseason starts in 2020, which were all between 4 and 5.2 innings, and that included a one-hitter in the WC game. So I don't get why he was surprised here. I mean I didn't like it either, but Cash yanking him after 5.1 in game 6 was completely in line with how Snell was managed all year.
   15. Howie Menckel Posted: February 19, 2021 at 03:04 PM (#6005872)
if the manager has no reason to watch the game, maybe some viewers will feel the same way.

this is - ok, was - an entertainment product.

many, many years earlier - ok, 4 years earlier - a sold-out Citi Field crowd stood on edge wondering if Matt "The Dark Knight" Harvey would come out to start the NINTH inning of Game 5 of the World Series with a 1-0 lead.

guess what - he did, and the moment is frozen in time forever as the crowd went wild and a million fans at home and in bars got a helluva adrenalin charge. they are GOING FOR IT with their big gun!

the obvious mistake MGR Terry Collins made was not deciding that Harvey will be pulled unless it's a 1-2-3 inning. instead a walk, SB, double....

but dammit, at least he gave Harvey - and the fans - a chance at one helluva memory.

but the Mets lost, you say.

well, so did the Rays.

I know which version I'd rather watch.

also, Maddon is rivaled only by Bob Brenly in the category of "Worst Pitching Decision-Making In a Series By A World Series-Winning Manager, 1903-2020."
   16. Stevey Posted: February 19, 2021 at 03:11 PM (#6005875)
if more pitchers are like Snell, maybe more managers will have to manage.


So, understanding the third time through the order penalty, and figuring out which relievers match up better against the other team isn't managing?

What extra effort or brilliance is there in waiting until the starter is so gassed everyone in the ballpark can see it before pulling him?
   17. SoSH U at work Posted: February 19, 2021 at 03:14 PM (#6005876)
But IIRC someone ran the numbers after the Snell game and showed pretty compellingly that the fact that a pitcher is "dealing" through X innings on a given day has pretty much no predictive power for his performance in upcoming innings.


It was still dopey. Snell faced fewer batters than all but one Ray starter in the series, so it wasn't as if Cash was wed to the idea of lifting a pitcher at x batters faced or x number of pitches. He chose this particular time, and he chose to replace him with a pitcher who had been pitching like crap for two weeks (but still had the shiny regular season ERA to show on the teevee when he entered the game).


   18. SoSH U at work Posted: February 19, 2021 at 03:16 PM (#6005877)
also, Maddon is rivaled only by Bob Brenly in the category of "Worst Pitching Decision-Making In a Series By A World Series-Winning Manager, 1903-2020."


Maddon made some blunders. But the distance between Brenly and Maddon (or whomever else is in the runner-up position) is Secretariat at the Belmontesque.

Whether Brenly alone is enough to overcome both Maddon and Tito in the worst managed series, both teams, is a more interesting question.

   19. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: February 19, 2021 at 03:24 PM (#6005881)
I know which version I'd rather watch.
How do you go about mandating that managers make decisions according to what you think the most enjoyable narrative will be, rather than what the team believes gives it the best odds of winning?

That said, I get where you're coming from. It was not fun to watch Maddon in 2016.
   20. The Yankee Clapper Posted: February 19, 2021 at 03:25 PM (#6005882)
Seeing our guy warming up like that ... I’m just being real: It wrecked my whole rhythm, everything I had built up over the entire game.
If the mere sight of someone warming up in the bullpen causes the starter to fall apart, he may not be the guy you want to place all your chips on. What next: “I was fine until I looked into the dugout and saw three guys had changed seats”?
   21. Stevey Posted: February 19, 2021 at 03:26 PM (#6005883)
Snell faced fewer batters than all but one Ray starter in the series, so it wasn't as if Cash was wed to the idea of lifting a pitcher at x batters faced or x number of pitches.


Cash also saw that the Dodgers put up a .500 OBP against Tampa starters through the first five games of the series. Why should he be wed to a strategy that hadn't worked so far?

   22. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: February 19, 2021 at 03:28 PM (#6005885)
If the mere sight of someone warming up in the bullpen causes the starter to fall apart, he may not be the guy you want to place all your chips on.
Also very much this.

First time I think I've ever agreed with YC on something.
   23. SoSH U at work Posted: February 19, 2021 at 03:42 PM (#6005889)
Cash also saw that the Dodgers put up a .500 OBP against Tampa starters through the first five games of the series. Why should he be wed to a strategy that hadn't worked so far?


Yet he remained betrothed to giving the ball to Nick Anderson, who was positively lights on for most of the postseason.
   24. flournoy Posted: February 19, 2021 at 03:45 PM (#6005890)
Blake Snell also has the mustache growing ability of a typical high school sophomore, yet he sees fit to put it on display despite being 28 years old. This shows poor judgement.
   25. Rally Posted: February 19, 2021 at 03:56 PM (#6005893)
Maddon made some blunders. But the distance between Brenly and Maddon (or whomever else is in the runner-up position) is Secretariat at the Belmontesque.


It's been 2 decades, so I had to remind myself what blunders were made. Oh yeah, Byung-Hyun Kim. That was tough. At least he didn't screw up the easy decisions - Start Schilling and Johnson in 5 out of the 7 games, and bring Johnson back for relief in game 7.
   26. SoSH U at work Posted: February 19, 2021 at 04:15 PM (#6005897)
It's been 2 decades, so I had to remind myself what blunders were made. Oh yeah, Byung-Hyun Kim. That was tough. At least he didn't screw up the easy decisions - Start Schilling and Johnson in 5 out of the 7 games, and bring Johnson back for relief in game 7.


If only that was all.

In Game 1, knowing he might bring Schilling back in Game 4, he let him throw seven full with a 9-0 lead after 4.

In Game 3, he started his fourth starter Brian Anderson, who was pretty lousy in 2001, rather than No. 3 man, Miguel Batista, who was pretty good that year, because he wanted the lefthander to face the Yankee lineup in Yankee stadium. Of course, Batista started Game 5 in that very same Yankee Stadium, and thus wasn't fully rested when the series shifted back to Arizona.

In Game 4, three times leadoff man Tony Womack reached against the not-dominant starter Orlando Hernandez. All three times he was advanced to second on bunts by the No. 2 man in the order, where he died all three times.

In Game 6, knowing he might want to bring the Big Unit back in relief in Game 7, Brenly allowed him to throw seven full innings despite the Diamondbacks leading 15-0 after four innings, a lead never once blown in the history of MLB.
   27. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: February 19, 2021 at 04:27 PM (#6005899)
leadoff man Tony Womack
...which qualifies by itself.
   28. SoSH U at work Posted: February 19, 2021 at 04:30 PM (#6005900)
...which qualifies by itself.


Good point.
   29. Nasty Nate Posted: February 19, 2021 at 04:35 PM (#6005902)
In Game 4, three times leadoff man Tony Womack reached against the not-dominant starter Orlando Hernandez. All three times he was advanced to second on bunts by the No. 2 man in the order, where he died all three times.
But you gotta manufacture runs when the No. 3 man had hit a measly 60 homeruns up until that point in the year...
   30. Stevey Posted: February 19, 2021 at 05:06 PM (#6005905)
Yet he remained betrothed to giving the ball to Nick Anderson, who was positively lights on for most of the postseason.


I'm not sure anyone is saying "He should have pulled Snell because Anderson was such a great bet to dominate the Dodgers". The quick hook was what was called dopey, and there really isn't much information to support that it actually was "dopey".
   31. McCoy Posted: February 19, 2021 at 05:23 PM (#6005908)
   32. SoSH U at work Posted: February 19, 2021 at 05:48 PM (#6005909)
I'm not sure anyone is saying "He should have pulled Snell because Anderson was such a great bet to dominate the Dodgers". The quick hook was what was called dopey, and there really isn't much information to support that it actually was "dopey".


He did have to replace him with somebody, though, as well as the guy he replaced Snell with and so on, some of whom were probably running on fumes and none of whom was all that good to begin with.

Blake Snell was the Rays most talented pitcher, in a season when his workload had been significantly lessened from previous years. He didn't throw that many pitches in that game. And the pitches he threw were as low-stress as you can get in a Game 6 (only three batters faced from the stretch). Kevin Cash let many of his starters throw more pitches and face more batters during the course of the postseason.
   33. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: February 19, 2021 at 07:35 PM (#6005921)
I remember getting furious at Joe Maddon for pulling Hendricks in Game 7 in 2016 for exactly the same reason, because I had an emotional investment in that game. But IIRC someone ran the numbers after the Snell game and showed pretty compellingly that the fact that a pitcher is "dealing" through X innings on a given day has pretty much no predictive power for his performance in upcoming innings.

Say what you will about Snell, we've had that discussion a few times. But Hendricks? Game 7 in 2016 was his shortest start of the season (63 pitches), with the exception of NLDS G2 in which (if memory serves) he was hit by a line drive. He had only one start shorter than 80 pitches in the regular season, and in that one, he was lifted for a pinch hitter; that workload taxed him so much that he won the NL ERA title, and not two weeks earlier had thrown 7.1 shutout innings (88 pitches) to clinch the pennant. And in Game 7, he was relieved with a runner on base (one runner, two outs, four-run lead, not the direst of circumstances) by a pitcher who literally everyone knew the Cubs should not be inserting mid-inning with runners on base. It was, at the time, an obviously ridiculous move, and the results (single + error followed by 2-run wild pitch) were well-deserved.
   34. Howie Menckel Posted: February 19, 2021 at 08:38 PM (#6005934)
the idea of analyzing how long each SP GENERALLY can last thru the order before fading is excellent, of course. a team that caught onto that first, a decade or more ago, might have found the game-changer to win a pennant.

but I can't believe any serious student of analytics is going to tell me that humans are so robotic that taking into account other factors known only, perhaps, to a manager about the pitcher should not factor in as well.

Snell had not pitched that many innings all season. does that mean you must stop him at his "limit" - or does it mean that you kept him fresh precisely so that, in the biggest spot of his life, he has a little more left in the tank?

nothing on the Excel chart quite gives you that answer, and it would be silly to presume otherwise.
   35. Ziggy: social distancing since 1980 Posted: February 19, 2021 at 11:17 PM (#6005957)
Here is the twitter discussion mentioned in the other thread. If this guys numbers are right, a pitcher being totally on doesn't mean much the third time through the order. He took recent starts of 5+ innings, 9+ Ks, 1 or fewer walks, 1 or fewer ER. ERA though five was in this group was 0.62, ERA in the 6th was 3.86. Sample ~200.

I thought it was a stupid move at the time too, but these numbers are very convincing. (Although of course you'd need to use them to get expected performance for Snell the next inning and compare it to expected performance of Anderson or whoever you've got in mind.)


   36. SoSH U at work Posted: February 20, 2021 at 12:35 AM (#6005961)
I thought it was a stupid move at the time too, but these numbers are very convincing. (Although of course you'd need to use them to get expected performance for Snell the next inning and compare it to expected performance of Anderson or whoever you've got in mind.)


That thread, and his ridiculous asterisked comment, make me wonder if this stat overstates things.

He says, "* and this doesn't even include the players they left on base!" But of course it does. That's how ERA works, the guys who are left on base and come around to score are charged to the pitcher who let the man reach. For example, here, Snell has an ERA of 27.00 for that inning, as he recorded one out and was responsible for one run.

And I'm curious if that doesn't ultimately, and unfairly (at least in the context of this analysis) tip ERA in favor of relievers in mid-inning situations. Since earned runs are assigned entirely to the pitcher who allows the runner to reach*, that's got to create a condition where the initial pitcher is being assigned more responsibility for run scoring than his actual performance dictates.

*And for the record, I'm not saying that, for instance, a guy who allows a double and the reliever who allows that player to score should be charged equally, as yielding the baserunner is still vastly more meaningful than any subsequent advancement. Just that we should be able to recognize that, as was the case here, Snell doesn't own 100 percent of the responsibility for the Barnes run, though ERA disputes that.
   37. Stevey Posted: February 20, 2021 at 07:48 AM (#6005970)


He did have to replace him with somebody, though, as well as the guy he replaced Snell with and so on, some of whom were probably running on fumes and none of whom was all that good to begin with.

Blake Snell was the Rays most talented pitcher, in a season when his workload had been significantly lessened from previous years. He didn't throw that many pitches in that game. And the pitches he threw were as low-stress as you can get in a Game 6 (only three batters faced from the stretch). Kevin Cash let many of his starters throw more pitches and face more batters during the course of the postseason.


At this point the argument is "its dopey because actually the next decision was the dopey one" and some Joe Morganesque "I refuse to address the data because I watch the game"
   38. McCoy Posted: February 20, 2021 at 08:20 AM (#6005975)
The Twitter stat is too blunt for me. In this day and age we should be able to actually compare precision and velocity and we of course need to compare performance vs using someone else. If a dealing SP would have the top of the order at a wOBA of .225 and your reliever looks to have them at .235 it is not necessarily the right call to pull the starter.

I would also bet that every single streak has the pitchers regressing to mean the following inning. 1 inning, 2 inninga, 3 innings, and so on.
   39. McCoy Posted: February 20, 2021 at 08:31 AM (#6005976)
the Carpenter vs Motte debate


Player & Blog Search

Who is playing the percentages? What are the percentages?
by Max Marchi
October 11, 2011

– You! Strawberry! Good effort today. Take a lap and hit the showers. I’m putting in a right-handed batter.

– Pinch-hitting for me?

– Yes. You’re a left hander, and so is the pitcher. If I send up a right-handed batter, it’s called playing the percentages. It’s what smart managers do to win ball games.

– I’ve got nine home runs.

– You should be very proud. Sit down. Simpson! You’re batting for Strawberry.

(Mr. Montgomery Burns and Darryl Strawberry, manager and right fielder, respectively, of the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant softball team.)

This article was inspired by this thread at The Book Blog, in which Mitchell Lichtman criticizes Tony La Russa’s managerial choices—well, actually “criticizes” is quite an euphemism.

The question is: Your starter has breezed through eight innings and is due to bat. Your team is leading by one run. Do you pinch hit for him?

Tony La Russa did not. It was the do-or-die fifth game of the National League Division Series, Chris Carpenter had blanked the Phillies lineup and was going to lead off the bottom of the eighth.

According to Lichtman, a.k.a. MGL, going to a better hitter was a no-brainer according to the numbers. You can read his arguments and his own words in the original thread, but the following summary should be a reasonable approximation of his position.

You pinch hit because:
1. You get a better chance of producing in your offensive inning.
2. Since every pitcher gets worse as he goes through the opposing lineup time after time, a fresh closer is a better option than a starter going to face the same batters for the fourth time.

Here we’ll expand a bit on point number two. Full disclosure: If I were managing in a deciding game and that situation occurred, I would NOT substitute for my starter.

Baseball talent
Let’s suppose we can visualize the distribution of baseball talent among people. It would probably be something like this.

image
The guys who actually play baseball should all be on the right end of the curve, with the major leaguers being on the extreme right part of the chart. Let’s zoom in on that part of the chart and focus on pitching talent. Something like the following might be reasonable.

image
No deep analysis has been performed to place those names on the talent spectrum, thus the positions are absolutely debatable. However, let’s suppose they’re placed appropriately.

We have Justin Verlander and CC Sabathia as the elite pitchers; Carpenter as a good-to-great player (if we were to consider the 2005/2006 seasons, his name would have been more to the right). Ted Lilly, who according to FanGraphs is one win over replacement level, can be considered a legitimate major leaguer. Finally, Dontrelle Willis, who has been attempting comebacks year after year, has to stay in the baseball limbo where the so-called Quad-A players have to live.


A Hardball Times Update
by RJ McDaniel
Goodbye for now.
Starter versus closer
Let’s now try to visualize Carpenter’s effectiveness as the game progresses and compare it with Jason Motte’s effectiveness. Again, the placement of labels on the chart is complete (though a bit educated) guesswork on my part and might not reflect the real values.

image
Two questions:
1. Why is Motte’s name in the above chart marked with an asterisk?
2. And why is Carpenter’s effectiveness the fourth time through the lineup marked with the “§” sign?

If you compare Carpenter’s and Motte’s ERAs (3.45 and 2.25 in 2011, respectively), or their batting averages allowed, or other more or less advanced metrics, you might be tempted to say Motte is the better pitcher, but we all know that’s not the case.

Motte enters the game in the ninth, so he does not face batters a second, third and fourth time through the game, when he is tired and the opponents have had the opportunity to time his pitches. Also, you have to consider that while Motte can put everything he has on every pitch, Carpenter has to pace himself if he wants to throw multiple innings.

Thus, the asterisk means: Yeah, Motte’s average effectiveness (that is, his ability to prevent opponents from scoring runs) looks better than Carpenter’s average effectiveness, but that’s because he pitches in a different setting. So, in the second chart, Motte’s name would be to the left of Carpenter’s name, not to its right.

Also, if you look at OPS allowed, you would think Carpenter has some kind of resurgence late in the game.

situation OPS
First time through the lineup .676
Second time through the lineup .745
Third time through the lineup .732
Fourth time through the lineup .682
Several pitchers show those kind of numbers. Does it mean that pitchers get some kind of energy injection when they see the finish line? No, you know better.

Starters are allowed to pitch deep into games on nights when they are performing well, but get the quick hook when they show “they don’t have it.” If you forced managers to leave pitchers on the mound until they have completed their fourth time through the lineup no matter of the score, you would not see those “resurgences.”

(One can look at old-timers’ numbers—back when pitchers were supposed to complete their games—to prove this. Don Newcombe is a good example (Baseball-Reference time-through-the-order stats). I have done a cursory look and found similar patterns for Bob Feller, Robin Roberts and Whitey Ford.)

Thus, the “§” means: We have taken care of the selection bias issue.

Summarizing this section: If we suppose I have correctly laid down the labels in the chart, it’s better to have a fresh Motte out to the bullpen than having Carpenter facing the opposing team for the fourth time.

Good and bad days
The sentence closing the previous section is true on average, or if the players are robots always performing at the same level (same performance, same decline each time through the order, and so on).

But players, fortunately, are human beings—if you had some question about Verlander not being human, the postseason games played so far should have convinced you of the contrary—and human beings have good and bad days.

image
The chart above shows Carpenter’s Game Scores throughout his career. Though we should expect Game Scores variation for robots as well (due to luck), it’s safe to assume a significant portion of the variation in the chart is caused by Carpenter having good and bad days (due to health issues, psychological factors, luck…whatever).

Even in 2005 (shaded on the chart), his Cy Young season, Carpenter had a couple of extremely bad outings. It’s very possible that on those occasions he threw as well as in any other start and simply had bad luck, but it’s quite likely that he was not 100 percent: he might have not slept well the previous night, some minor ailment could have been affecting him, or he simply “didn’t have it” that night.

The chart below should not be too unreasonable.

image
On his best days, Carpenter can be the best pitcher in the game, while on an awful night he will resemble a back-of-the-rotation pitcher.

What kind of Carpenter was on the mound in the NLDS Game Five?
That question is why teams can not be run by computers.

The average Motte facing the opposing lineup for the first time in the game is better than the average Carpenter facing that lineup for the fourth time.

I’m pretty sure La Russa knows this; otherwise, he would not have relievers in his bullpen. If La Russa decides to leave his ace on the mound for the ninth inning, it’s because he believes Carpenter is having one of his best days. Thus, the chart in La Russa’s mind should look like the following.

image
Note: Carpenter’s first and second time through the lineup, in this scenario, are literally off the charts.

Carpenter on his best night is probably better the fourth time through the lineup than the average Motte coming out of the pen. Yeah, Motte might also be having the best night of his life, but there’s a difference.

For Carpenter we have eight innings of blanking the mighty Phillies. Sure, it can be the usual Carpenter with a lot of luck on his side, but with eight goose eggs against a powerful lineup we are entitled to shift (if ever slightly) our a priori idea of Carpenter’s effectiveness for the night. With Motte we don’t have any clue, except what he and the bullpen catcher can tell us.

La Russa bets Carpenter is blessed with an inordinately great condition and that Motte is his usual self. Is that bet ill-advised?

Okay, time for some numbers.

I looked at games played in the past 20 years, thanks to the invaluable Retrosheet data. I selected all the instances in which the starting pitcher has completed eight innings giving up one run at most. These should be the circumstances when the manager can believe his starter “has it” and can complete the game.

I removed the games in which the offense had provided the pitcher more than three runs. Thus, we are dealing with situations in which the game is still on the line, and the manager should be trying to maximize his chances. (In a blowout the skipper’s choices could be dictated by having to rest the bullpen or wanting to try a young arm.)

The games were then split in two groups: Games with the starter beginning the ninth (STARTER) and games with a reliever beginning the ninth (CLOSER).

Here’s how the two groups fared, with more than 1,000 games represented in each group.

runs percentage
allowed CLOSER STARTER
0 76 74
1 14 16
2 7 5
3 2 3
4+ 0 1

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