Bullpen (Mis)Management

Sandy Leon Trotsky

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How did I miss that there was game last night??? I thought they had it off.
But more importantly…. Why the hell was Hernandez throwing in a tie game????
 

CoffeeNerdness

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He's a Robles clone from the left side; a hard thrower who can't hit the broadside of a barn that gets used by Cora in situations he's not fit for. If he remains on the roster moments such as last night will continue to repeat. The guy had 31 walks in 40 innings last year! He has a career 1.6 WHIP. You can't keep a guy like this on the MLB roster even with a 14k/9ip career mark. 18 walks in 25 IP at AAA this year... wtf.
 

Cesar Crespo

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He's a Robles clone from the left side; a hard thrower who can't hit the broadside of a barn that gets used by Cora in situations he's not fit for. If he remains on the roster moments such as last night will continue to repeat. The guy had 31 walks in 40 innings last year! He has a career 1.6 WHIP. You can't keep a guy like this on the MLB roster even with a 14k/9ip career mark. 18 walks in 25 IP at AAA this year... wtf.
MLB: 32.6% career K%, 17.2% BB%
AA/AAA: 31.9% Career k% 17.8% BB%
Minors: 26.4% career k%, 13.8% BB%

At one time, I got the appeal. Maybe he could somehow cut down on the walks by moving to the pen. Pitching every few days would help him repeat his delivery which would help with his control issues. It never happened though.

It's amazing he's only 25 years old. I thought he was like 27 for some reason. He's been in the Sox system since 2014. He made his debut at 22 in 2019. Feels like forever ago. I guess I can see the hesitation in letting him go but those are awful BB%. People will point to Chapman but his career Minor league BB% of 12.9% was mostly done at the AAA level.

To get by on a BB% so high would require a pitcher to "reduce" hits at an unmaintainable level and/or never give up any HRs. He's always flirting with disaster.

edit: FWIW, he gave up 7.1 hit/9 and 0.3 HR/9 in the minors. So he did those 2 things. In the Majors, it's 7.7 and 1.0HR/9. He also had an ERA+ of 132 in the majors going into the year. After 5.2 ip this season, it's down to 110.
 

Sandy Leon Trotsky

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Why is he even on the team or the 40? Guy is a walking disaster.
I didn't see the game, as mentioned, but if Cora is only going to utilize the strength of the pen with a lead it's going to be bad. I understand needing to hold back a "closer"- at times- but Whitlock, to me, would have been ideal in that situation.
I guess... one positive.... Barnes looked good (at least in the box score), albeit against a depleted Royals team.

What are they doing even losing against the Royals right now?!??!!?
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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I didn't see the game, as mentioned, but if Cora is only going to utilize the strength of the pen with a lead it's going to be bad. I understand needing to hold back a "closer"- at times- but Whitlock, to me, would have been ideal in that situation.
I guess... one positive.... Barnes looked good (at least in the box score), albeit against a depleted Royals team.

What are they doing even losing against the Royals right now?!??!!?
I missed the game last night but before Wednesday's game, Cora was saying he was hoping to get a bunch of innings out of Hill and Bello to give the pen some rest. That obviously didn't happen with Hill getting hit around and Bello getting hurt. It's entirely possible that he was trying to accomplish the same last night by going first to his freshest arms once Pivetta was done.

With two lefties leading off the bottom of the seventh, going with Darwinzon is defensible. If there's a quibble, it's not having someone (Schreiber?) ready to go for the RHH middle of the order if got to them. Instead, Hernandez stayed in, gave up the bomb to Perez, and the damage was done. After that, there's no sense going to Whitlock or Schreiber with a four run deficit.
 

BaseballJones

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I missed the game last night but before Wednesday's game, Cora was saying he was hoping to get a bunch of innings out of Hill and Bello to give the pen some rest. That obviously didn't happen with Hill getting hit around and Bello getting hurt. It's entirely possible that he was trying to accomplish the same last night by going first to his freshest arms once Pivetta was done.
I didn't follow last night. What happened to Bello?
 

jwbasham84

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Jul 26, 2022
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It just feels like there is very little sense of urgency with Cora and his bullpen management style. I totally understand that you can't burn up bullpen guys like Dusty Baker did in his Cubs days, but if this team is really intending to make the playoffs, they need to win these "winnable" games. As RedHawks said, bringing Hernandez in was defensible as there were lefties for him to face. But watching him pitch you could tell that he was not controlling where he threw the ball. He walked his first batter and then threw Melendez a slider right in a lefty's wheelhouse. A groundball past X (I think a rangier SS stops that ball and Lopez might not score there, but he's what we have) and then a first pitch homer to Perez. Why didn't a righty come in to face Perez? You are only down 1 run at that point, and it is the 7th inning. Shreiber or Whitlock would seemingly be available for exactly that scenario with the other still in line to pitch the 8th before Houck in the 9th... I mean none of them pitched the day before. Houck last pitched on Aug 2nd, Whitlock on July 31, and Schreiber on Aug 1st.....
 

Petagine in a Bottle

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I do think the restrictions on Whitlock makes the team really hesitant to use him in situations like this because then he’s out of commission for a day or two. That leads to being careful with Schreiber too, since he’s the guy you can use most days, and then Houck is usually just sitting around waiting for a save chance.

A couple weeks ago, Bloom said the team was looking to add two RH relievers, and they ended up with none.
 

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I do think the restrictions on Whitlock makes the team really hesitant to use him in situations like this because then he’s out of commission for a day or two. That leads to being careful with Schreiber too, since he’s the guy you can use most days, and then Houck is usually just sitting around waiting for a save chance.

A couple weeks ago, Bloom said the team was looking to add two RH relievers, and they ended up with none.
But wasn't this the perfect situation for Whitlock? He hasn't pitched since Sunday, the Sox just clawed their way back to tie the game, seems like an ideal time to use him for 2 innings and try to grab the game. To me, this is exactly the situation that you are resting him for.
 

Petagine in a Bottle

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But wasn't this the perfect situation for Whitlock? He hasn't pitched since Sunday, the Sox just clawed their way back to tie the game, seems like an ideal time to use him for 2 innings and try to grab the game. To me, this is exactly the situation that you are resting him for.
I agree. But I think they are probably overly cautious, which then leads to trying to steal a game without using him. Then suddenly you are losing and have to weigh using him, or just waiting until the next day and hope you have a better spot. Then eventually you have to use him to get him some work, no matter what, without knowing what’s gonna happen the next day. Ultimately I think the restrictions on him make it really difficult to use him optimally- made harder since the rest of the pen isn’t great.
 

Sandy Leon Trotsky

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But wasn't this the perfect situation for Whitlock? He hasn't pitched since Sunday, the Sox just clawed their way back to tie the game, seems like an ideal time to use him for 2 innings and try to grab the game. To me, this is exactly the situation that you are resting him for.
Yeah... and it still would likely preserve Schreiber and Houck for the today's game if Cora REALLY needed to hold them until there was a lead.
I don't get this type of management. I realize there's really only 3.... maybe 4 (clean inning....) good relievers... .but that should be enough to scrape this. Austin Davis is preferable to Hernandez. Right/lefty.... whatever.... go with a good pitcher!
 

jwbasham84

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Jul 26, 2022
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But wasn't this the perfect situation for Whitlock? He hasn't pitched since Sunday, the Sox just clawed their way back to tie the game, seems like an ideal time to use him for 2 innings and try to grab the game. To me, this is exactly the situation that you are resting him for.
Exactly my thoughts as well... and again it goes back to the urgency thing. Win the winnable games. Tomorrow's game might not need Whitlock or Schreiber to pitch because it's a blowout.
 

joe dokes

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But wasn't this the perfect situation for Whitlock? He hasn't pitched since Sunday, the Sox just clawed their way back to tie the game, seems like an ideal time to use him for 2 innings and try to grab the game. To me, this is exactly the situation that you are resting him for.
I agree with this. I didn't even turn the game on until it was tied. And when I saw Whitlock warming, I figured it was his game. And even if Hernandez starting the inning for the LHHs was defensible (barely, IMO), facing Perez was considerably less so. Oddly, Whitlock is about the only guy in the bullpen who *isn't* a little crispy right now.
 

Mueller's Twin Grannies

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Alex Cora is not Ozzie Guillén, so any notions that he's trying to send a message to the front office are probably extremely farfetched. It's more likely that he sees that they have an outside shot at the playoffs and wants to see who he can lean on in tight spots if the usual guys aren't available, as may happen down the stretch or in any postseason games they may happen to play. And if they don't make it, which I'm sure he's realistic about the possibility of that being the result, he's taking stock of what he might have next year. Using Hernández was probably a calculated risk that didn't pay off. It'll be useful information if they have to judge his worth on the roster with the crunch coming up. If he continues to fail, he'll be gone at some point and someone more deserving will get his spot, and that's a good thing, even if it is due to a shitty result in the game.
 

RIrooter09

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He's a Robles clone from the left side; a hard thrower who can't hit the broadside of a barn that gets used by Cora in situations he's not fit for. If he remains on the roster moments such as last night will continue to repeat. The guy had 31 walks in 40 innings last year! He has a career 1.6 WHIP. You can't keep a guy like this on the MLB roster even with a 14k/9ip career mark. 18 walks in 25 IP at AAA this year... wtf.
He reminds me of Franklin Morales. Hard throwing lefty with very questionable control.
 

greek_gawd_of_walks

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Darwinzon is a tragic misstep in middle relief evolution. His soul was snatched as soon a Stanton left earth on him for the grand slam late last year. Frankly, I was a little surprised they didn't cut ties with him altogether in the off-season. I mean, he walks the house, home run prone and I seem to remember him with much more velo than this. I mean, Jason Castro crushed him in the ALCS for god's sake...

Dude will never put it together. He's never been able to throw enough strikes, and when he does, dudes smoke him.
Just wanted to add this here. It's amazing that Cora went to a worse version of the dear departed diekman. To reiterate, I thought he was done with the team at the end of last season.

The velo is gone from what I remember and he walks the stadium. No business in Boston. Easily someone I move off the 40.
 

Ganthem

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I have had issues with Cora's bullpen management since the start of the season. His hesitancy to allow starters to go six or seven innings until he figured out what he has in the bullpen cost the Sox at least a few games. He also seemed to consistently rely on Diekman and Braiser no matter how many times they have showed they were unable to be trusted. I have no idea why Hernandez was brought in yesterday. Hell Sawamura would have been a better option. As for Whitlock they need to take these precautions away. Either put him the rotation and let him go or put him in the bulllpen and actually treat him like a bullpen arm.
 

jwbasham84

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Alex Cora is not Ozzie Guillén, so any notions that he's trying to send a message to the front office are probably extremely farfetched. It's more likely that he sees that they have an outside shot at the playoffs and wants to see who he can lean on in tight spots if the usual guys aren't available, as may happen down the stretch or in any postseason games they may happen to play. And if they don't make it, which I'm sure he's realistic about the possibility of that being the result, he's taking stock of what he might have next year. Using Hernández was probably a calculated risk that didn't pay off. It'll be useful information if they have to judge his worth on the roster with the crunch coming up. If he continues to fail, he'll be gone at some point and someone more deserving will get his spot, and that's a good thing, even if it is due to a shitty result in the game.
I mean yes he knows more than us, but did he really need to see any more from Darwinzon? He has struggled since last year. He walked 31 batters in 40 innings last year and has been nothing short of awful this year. Did we really need to leave him in to face Perez after he gave up multiple hits and walked the leadoff hitter to see he didn't have what it takes... I don't think so. YMMV...
 

Mueller's Twin Grannies

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Call it what you will, maybe even just blatant sentimentality, but Cora does not seem like the type to give up on anyone if they are on his team. So long as they are in the dugout, he sees them as Major League players and treats them as such.
 

jwbasham84

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And I in my opinion that's his biggest flaw as a manager. He uses guys who have no business being in the situation they are in because they are an option available to him. Additionally I think he refuses to bench guys for bad/lazy plays. There is very little accountability aside from the usual, these guys are professionals stuff. If you do something incredibly lazy/stupid you should be benched. Like Duran should have been...
 

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And I in my opinion that's his biggest flaw as a manager. He uses guys who have no business being in the situation they are in because they are an option available to him. Additionally I think he refuses to bench guys for bad/lazy plays. There is very little accountability aside from the usual, these guys are professionals stuff. If you do something incredibly lazy/stupid you should be benched. Like Duran should have been...
Very few managers actually bench players these days. These are the days of players' managers, not Billy Martin and Earl Weaver. I say this as someone who has never been much of a Cora fan, but I can't really put too much of this on him specifically.
 

Bergs

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Very few managers actually bench players these days. These are the days of players' managers, not Billy Martin and Earl Weaver. I say this as someone who has never been much of a Cora fan, but I can't really put too much of this on him specifically.
This, and in order to bench a guy, you actually need to have positional depth.
 

Mueller's Twin Grannies

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Part of me wonders if he acts that way because he was only ever a utility player in his career and knows that even the 26th man on the team can be a major contributor if given a chance, but maybe not every time out.
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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Part of me wonders if he acts that way because he was only ever a utility player in his career and knows that even the 26th man on the team can be a major contributor if given a chance, but maybe not every time out.
I think that's part of it, but I don't think it's exclusive to him or his utility role as a player. It's the way the game works these days. No team runs the same lineup 150+ times a year anymore. Every player on the roster has a role to play.

I'm unsure whether this notion that Cora (or any manager) should never rely on bench/role players and always go with his best at every turn is a throwback to the old school days (Zimmer running the '78 lineup into the ground) or a product of fantasy sports where one can plug and play from a near infinite supply of replacements without significant consequence. Either way, it's not how the game works. Sometimes you have to give the ball to the freshest arm you have, even if he's not the best guy you've got.
 

jwbasham84

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I completely agree that players need days off and you can't just keep using the same guys all the time. I'm not advocating for a Dusty Baker Cubs era bullpen strategy. But Darwinzon was neither our best option nor was he the only fresh arm. Whitlock hadn't pitched since July 31st. And wasn't this the perfect scenario to bring him in? Two runners on only 1 out facing one of their "best" right handed batters. People have been clamoring all season for Whitlock to be back in the bullpen to be the fireman. This was a time to bring him in. Darwinzon was cooked.
 

Harry Hooper

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How often has Cora brought Whitlock into a game mid-inning? I think he's typically been brought in to start innings.
 

jwbasham84

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Correct Whitlock has typically been brought in to start an inning. Only against the twins in April has he been brought in mid inning to stop a rally this year. But if he is going to be a staple in the bullpen for the remainder of the season and considered one of our high leverage arms, shouldn't be be able to come in with runners on? Don't we want him to? If not, is he really the answer for our right handed reliever issue?
 

Mueller's Twin Grannies

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Hernández had a decent July in Worcester, so maybe Cora was just seeing if it would translate against a team not known for its offense, especially with Benintendi now gone.
 

Humphrey

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...and then last night it was Davis' turn to suck, although I think most of us would have preferred seeing Davis in the same spot on Thursday. Good thing it was a large lead.
 

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...and then last night it was Davis' turn to suck, although I think most of us would have preferred seeing Davis in the same spot on Thursday. Good thing it was a large lead.
But that's kind of the point. With a 6 run lead, you have a lot more flexibility regarding who to pitch. That is a decent spot to try Hernandez, not in a tie game in the 7th. Big Fudge has generally been pretty good, so he can be used is all sorts of situations, although with a relatively short leash if he's wild, like last night.