The save statistic is simplistic and stupid

Smiling Joe Hesketh

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Not decadent and depraved, but close enough.

When I am Supreme Overlord, the save statistic shall be forever abolished. It's a goddamn stain on the game because it leads managers to deliberately choose strategies that are antithetical to winning. Today's game is a fine example, but we could scan baseball on a daily basis and find this monstrousness all over the league.

In a tied extra inning game on the road, it's sudden death for the visiting team when they're pitching. The optimal strategy would thus be to use pitchers who are most unlikely to give up runs first, then move to the guys more likely to do so. This maximizes your chances of winning, because you need to prevent runs as long as possible. Most of the time, the pitcher least likely to give up runs is the closer. Logic dictates using him in a tie game on the road, since he's least likely to give up runs (obviously, all factors like rest and usage being equal).

There was no earthly reason for Barnes to have been brought into a tie game in extra innings on the road today before Kimbrel was used. In every way Kimbrel is a vastly superior pitcher, far less likely to give up a run than the thoroughly mediocre Barnes. In a situation when a single run means a loss, Farrell brought in a sub-optimal choice of reliever because of this insanely misguided school of thought that closers have to be saved for save situations. So Kimbrel sat unused in the pen while Barnes coughed it away. And nearly every manager around the league does this. Hell, back in the 2013 playoffs the same thing happened to Kimbrel when he was with Atlanta, he sat unused in the pen as Carpenter coughed up the elimination game against the Dodgers because he was being saved for a bottom of the 9th that never arrived.

I know Farrell used Koji far more optimally in the 2013 playoffs. Multiple innings, 5 out saves, etc. Koji's 1 run allowed that postseason came in the bottom of the 9th on the road in a tie game. But it's OK to push the envelope just a little bit in the regular season too.

It's insane. It's bad baseball. And it's going to kill me if I have to keep watching it. Get rid of the save statistic, it's led to total madness.
 

Rasputin

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The save statistic will be the second one up against the wall when the revolution comes.
 

Rudy's Curve

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Kimbrel has not pitched since Tuesday. He has pitched once in the last eight days, twice in the last 12, three times in the last 15, four times in the last 21, five times in the last 25 and six times in the last 28. He will not pitch tomorrow. Farrell may have just managed by the book, but the book especially in this case is managerial malpractice.
 

oumbi

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Kimbrel has not pitched since Tuesday. He has pitched once in the last eight days, twice in the last 12, three times in the last 15, four times in the last 21, five times in the last 25 and six times in the last 28. He will not pitch tomorrow. Farrell may have just managed by the book, but the book especially in this case is managerial malpractice.
So, the problem is less the save stat than Ferrall's decision-making as the manager. This would seem the better avenue for debate since I find it hard to believe that the idea the Kimbrel only gets inserted in save sitatuions to be unconvincing.

Ideally, I would have checked to see whether Kimbrel has ever pitched for the Sox in a non-save situation, but I am traveling and can't do the basic research. Apologies for that.
 

derekson

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This will be even better when Kimbrel pitches in an 8-2 game on Tuesday "to get some work in".
 

flymrfreakjar

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I missed the game and have been only been able to check in with the phone, but was Barnes brought in to face the bottom of the line-up? The only way I can justify it would be if he were saving Kimbrel for their best hitters...
 

BigSoxFan

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I missed the game and have been only been able to check in with the phone, but was Barnes brought in to face the bottom of the line-up? The only way I can justify it would be if he were saving Kimbrel for their best hitters...
A smart manager doesn't manage for the 11th inning in the 10th.
 

tims4wins

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I missed the game and have been only been able to check in with the phone, but was Barnes brought in to face the bottom of the line-up? The only way I can justify it would be if he were saving Kimbrel for their best hitters...
Can you not access the play by play from your phone?

Snark aside, Barnes was brought in to face 3-4-5. Farrell has lost all benefit of the doubt in these situations IMO. He is over his head when it comes to game strategy. Thank god he is such a good Leader of Men (TM).
 

simplicio

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Can you not access the play by play from your phone?

Snark aside, Barnes was brought in to face 3-4-5. Farrell has lost all benefit of the doubt in these situations IMO. He is over his head when it comes to game strategy. Thank god he is such a good Leader of Men (TM).
I think that's a little disingenuous; it's the 3-4-5 of a lineup where the 3 (Mauer) is decent and everything past that is bottom of the order quality. I saw it as looking for potentially multiple innings from Barnes and having Kimbrel available for a save or if Nunez and Grossman came up again. I think that's defensible enough.
 

BaseballJones

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I totally sympathize with SJH's frustration. But in this case, once the Sox didn't score in the top or the 10th, the Twins, even if everything went right for the Sox, would still get two more times at bat. So you gotta manage with both in mind, I'd think.

Of course, if Kimbrel handles business in the 10th, it gives the Sox a chance to score and take the lead in the 11th, but you'd still have to use a pitcher not named Kimbrel there as well: and lets face it...it's not like Barnes pitching there would have made any of us comfortable either. He did, after all, give up 3 runs in the 10th. Not just one.
 

BigSoxFan

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The Sox would have had Hanley, Bradley, and Young coming up in the 11th. Certainly no guarantee of victory but decent chance at scoring a run. Sure, someone else would have had to close it out but with the off day tomorrow and recent usage, it doesn't make sense to me to withhold your most valuable bullpen asset.
 

Mighty Joe Young

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Can you not access the play by play from your phone?

Snark aside, Barnes was brought in to face 3-4-5. Farrell has lost all benefit of the doubt in these situations IMO. He is over his head when it comes to game strategy. Thank god he is such a good Leader of Men (TM).
I happy you think this loss was Farrell's fault .. Rather than Barnes who actually gave up the runs. Always blame management I guess. Look, every other manager in baseball would have done exactly the same thing. So you are going to be disappointed by whoever his replacement is.

Baseball people believe that players perform better when they are used in consistent roles. Personally I think it's silly. But I'm not sure the Save statistic is to blame .. It's just managers trying to use players consistently.

I'm assuming Koji wasn't available today?
 

Sox and Rocks

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I happy you think this loss was Farrell's fault .. Rather than Barnes who actually gave up the runs. Always blame management I guess. Look, every other manager in baseball would have done exactly the same thing. So you are going to be disappointed by whoever his replacement is.

Baseball people believe that players perform better when they are used in consistent roles. Personally I think it's silly. But I'm not sure the Save statistic is to blame .. It's just managers trying to use players consistently.

I'm assuming Koji wasn't available today?
Koji pitched the eighth inning, after the Sox tied it in the top half. He threw 13 pitches and was quite dominant. If he can't be used on back to back days, and can't be used for more than 3 outs even when getting said outs only requires 13 pitches, this bullpen is even thinner and, thus, less effective than it already seems.

Edit: I didn't see yesterday's (Saturday) game, but assumed, based on the score, Koji didn't pitch. According to the box score, he did, and in a 6 run game? Can someone explain yesterday's use?
 
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tims4wins

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I happy you think this loss was Farrell's fault .. Rather than Barnes who actually gave up the runs. Always blame management I guess. Look, every other manager in baseball would have done exactly the same thing. So you are going to be disappointed by whoever his replacement is.

Baseball people believe that players perform better when they are used in consistent roles. Personally I think it's silly. But I'm not sure the Save statistic is to blame .. It's just managers trying to use players consistently.

I'm assuming Koji wasn't available today?
Nowhere did I say the loss was Farrell's fault. It wasn't his fault. If Barnes pitches the 11th instead maybe the same thing happens. But it
doesn't mean that Farrell made a good decision.
 

edoug

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I'm not sure when Koji got up to throw but the Sox scored 3 runs after 2 were out.
Koji pitched the eighth inning, after the Sox tied it in the top half. He threw 13 pitches and was quite dominant. If he can't be used on back to back days, and can't be used for more than 3 outs even when getting said outs only requires 13 pitches, this bullpen is even thinner and, thus, less effective than it already seems.

Edit: I didn't see yesterday's (Saturday) game, but assumed, based on the score, Koji didn't pitch. According to the box score, he did, and in a 6 run game? Can someone explain yesterday's use?
When Koji got up to throw in the pen the Sox were up either 5-4 or 7-4. More likely the latter but I can't remember exactly. Because the last 3 runs of that inning scored after 2 outs, Farrell didn't know when the 3rd out would happen so they were committed to Koji coming in for the 8th with a 6 run lead.
 

moondog80

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I totally sympathize with SJH's frustration. But in this case, once the Sox didn't score in the top or the 10th, the Twins, even if everything went right for the Sox, would still get two more times at bat. So you gotta manage with both in mind, I'd think.

Of course, if Kimbrel handles business in the 10th, it gives the Sox a chance to score and take the lead in the 11th, but you'd still have to use a pitcher not named Kimbrel there as well: and lets face it...it's not like Barnes pitching there would have made any of us comfortable either. He did, after all, give up 3 runs in the 10th. Not just one.
This is where I am. It reminds me a little of the Pedro or Pete Schourek debate in the 1998 ALDS. Silly as it may sound, some guys really are more comfortable pitching in their "role", and Farrell is in a much better position to know Kimbrel than any of us.
 

NoXInNixon

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I totally sympathize with SJH's frustration. But in this case, once the Sox didn't score in the top or the 10th, the Twins, even if everything went right for the Sox, would still get two more times at bat. So you gotta manage with both in mind, I'd think.

Of course, if Kimbrel handles business in the 10th, it gives the Sox a chance to score and take the lead in the 11th, but you'd still have to use a pitcher not named Kimbrel there as well: and lets face it...it's not like Barnes pitching there would have made any of us comfortable either. He did, after all, give up 3 runs in the 10th. Not just one.
Here's the difference: We know with 100% certainty that the Sox lose the game if they give up any runs in the bottom of the 10th. Maybe the Sox score 8 runs in the top of the 11th, in which case anyone can pitch the bottom of the 11th. Even if the Sox don't score in the top of the 11th, the bottom of the 11th can't possibly be any more important that the bottom of the 10th. But it might be a lot less important. So you have to use your best pitcher in the 10th.
 

BaseballJones

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Here's the difference: We know with 100% certainty that the Sox lose the game if they give up any runs in the bottom of the 10th. Maybe the Sox score 8 runs in the top of the 11th, in which case anyone can pitch the bottom of the 11th. Even if the Sox don't score in the top of the 11th, the bottom of the 11th can't possibly be any more important that the bottom of the 10th. But it might be a lot less important. So you have to use your best pitcher in the 10th.
Then by that same logic, they should have used Kimbrel in the 9th, then Tazawa in the 10th, and whomever after that. Was there the same hand-wringing going on here in the 9th?
 

NoXInNixon

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Then by that same logic, they should have used Kimbrel in the 9th, then Tazawa in the 10th, and whomever after that. Was there the same hand-wringing going on here in the 9th?
There's not a huge gap between Taz and Kimbrel, so the order between them isn't particularly important.
 

Smiling Joe Hesketh

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I'm not sure when Koji got up to throw but the Sox scored 3 runs after 2 were out.

When Koji got up to throw in the pen the Sox were up either 5-4 or 7-4. More likely the latter but I can't remember exactly. Because the last 3 runs of that inning scored after 2 outs, Farrell didn't know when the 3rd out would happen so they were committed to Koji coming in for the 8th with a 6 run lead.
Plus due to Koji's age they've said in the past that when he gets up to warm he's gonna come into the game. They're not going to get him up to warm, sit him down, and then warm him up again. I don't have a problem with his use the other night.
 

Smiling Joe Hesketh

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Here's the difference: We know with 100% certainty that the Sox lose the game if they give up any runs in the bottom of the 10th. Maybe the Sox score 8 runs in the top of the 11th, in which case anyone can pitch the bottom of the 11th. Even if the Sox don't score in the top of the 11th, the bottom of the 11th can't possibly be any more important that the bottom of the 10th. But it might be a lot less important. So you have to use your best pitcher in the 10th.
Right. It's all a matter of percentages.

The real madness is using the lesser guy in a situation where 1 run loses the game, and saving the (far) better guy for a possible situation where 1 run just ties the game (getting the lead in extras). In what universe does that make any sense at all?

And really, I didn't want this thread to be another mandate on Farrell, I wanted to open the discussion up to overall bullpen strategy being driven by a moronic stat that has very little relationship to winning baseball games.
 

moondog80

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Right. It's all a matter of percentages.

The real madness is using the lesser guy in a situation where 1 run loses the game, and saving the (far) better guy for a possible situation where 1 run just ties the game (getting the lead in extras). In what universe does that make any sense at all?

And really, I didn't want this thread to be another mandate on Farrell, I wanted to open the discussion up to overall bullpen strategy being driven by a moronic stat that has very little relationship to winning baseball games.
But you can't dismiss the part where relief pitchers prefer set roles, some more than others. If the manager uses his discretion to keep a guy happy all season at the expense of a small decrease in expected outcome for one game, I'm OK with that. Yes, the save statistic has been the driver for some of this and that's stupid, but the cat's out of the bag. Even if they got rid of saves (which will never happen), alpha males are going to want to be saved for the last out wherever possible.
 

Smiling Joe Hesketh

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Set roles go out the window in extras on the road.

At home I have little to no problem with keeping guys in their comfort zones. I get it. At home you also have the luxury of batting last, so there's no save to be gotten once the game goes into extras. On the road a manager who holds his best pitcher aside for a possible save situation and instead loses the game because he uses a crappy pitcher first deserves immense criticism.

The save rule sucks, and is hurting baseball.

If Kimbrel is such a delicate hothouse flower that he can't be used in tie games in extras on the road (and I'm not saying he really is, this is a hypothetical), then what goddamn use is he?
 

BaseballJones

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By the way, I totally agree that the save rule is stupid. But it makes baseball players a TON of extra money, so it's not going anywhere.
 

lexrageorge

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Farrell's usage of Kimbrel and Barnes, as SJH noted, was no different than what we see from every other MLB manager during the regular season, including the infallible Joe Maddon. The usage of "closers" when the team is protecting a lead in the final inning is an old and apparently unbreakable tradition.

I doubt we'll see a manager break this tradition in the regular season unless and until a GM comes in and gives the manager specific direction to do just that. Removing the "save" as a statistic is unlikely to change that, as the stat was essentially made up by the media way back in the days of old. There's nothing to prevent the media (and player agents) from continuing to use the statistic, no matter how flawed or dumb.

One issue with changing the usage of relievers is that such a usage has not yet been tested in real life situation over the course a long regular season. Yes, the statistics say the best reliever should pitch in the highest leverage situations, but real life sometimes gets in the way. For example, how does one identify consistently the "highest leverage situations"? Sure, bottom of the 10th in a tied road game is about as high leverage as one can get. But what about being tied in the 7th inning when your team still has 6 or 9 at bats remaining? I don't believe the answers are as always clear cut as they are sometimes made out to be. And pointing to one game where the strategy succeeded or failed is seldom helpful; one game is about as small of a sample size as one can get.
 

moondog80

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If Kimbrel is such a delicate hothouse flower that he can't be used in tie games in extras on the road (and I'm not saying he really is, this is a hypothetical), then what goddamn use is he?
I'm sure it's not as black and white as that in Farrell's mind. He knew Kimbrel would have come in without complaint. He just chose season long consistency over a pretty small change in expected outcome for one game. If he did this in game 7 of the World Series, I'd be pissed. But on June 12?
 

Smiling Joe Hesketh

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As noted earlier in the thread, Kimbel's barely been used recently.

Season-long consistency my ass. This wouldn't have been 3 games in 4 days, it would have been 7 games in 28 days. No reason for it except holding him back for the save.
 

Toe Nash

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I'm sure it's not as black and white as that in Farrell's mind. He knew Kimbrel would have come in without complaint. He just chose season long consistency over a pretty small change in expected outcome for one game. If he did this in game 7 of the World Series, I'd be pissed. But on June 12?
The whole point of this thread if I'm reading it right isn't that Farrell should be fired for this decision; it's that the save stat makes this decision the easy one and the one that Kimbrel is comfortable with*. Thus, if the save stat were gone, new bullpen usage would develop -- perhaps one in which the best pitcher is ready to pitch in the most important portion of the game.

*I'm sure part of why Kimbrel is comfortable pitching in a save situation is because compiling saves has made him a lot more money than he'd make pitching in tie games...
 

moondog80

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As noted earlier in the thread, Kimbel's barely been used recently.

Season-long consistency my ass. This wouldn't have been 3 games in 4 days, it would have been 7 games in 28 days. No reason for it except holding him back for the save.
Who mentioned overuse? Consistency in his role. Barring dire circumstances, we're going to save you for the final 3 outs, wherever possible. And June 12 is not dire circumstances.

I don't love it. I'm just OK with it. I also think people are greatly overestimating the change in win% if they go with Kimbrel in the 10th, assuming he goes only one inning either way. The chances of them scoring enough runs in the top of the 11th to render the bottom meaningless is pretty small.
 

joe dokes

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SJH is right, of course. The save stat drives usage in a way that sometimes seems to yield illogical usage. Other than a specific lineup turnover (maybe let the worse guy get the bottom of the order and 'save' the better guy for better hitters), it's always seemed simple to me: the bottom half of a tie game on the road after the 8th has no margin for error, so use the better guy first. Worry about protecting a lead when you get one. But like so many other things, that's not the way the game is played today. Nor was it played that way in 2003, when Joe Torre left Mariano Rivera on the bench in an 12 inning road game in the World Series, waiting to protect a lead that never came. (That was game 4 . They didn't have a lead for the rest of that Series and lost in 6.)

http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/FLO/FLO200310220.shtml
 

johnnywayback

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The save statistic is dumb, and managers who let it govern their bullpen usage are even dumber.

So what does that say about general managers who overpay for Proven Elite Closers, as measured by their history of racking up saves? :rolleyes:
 

glennhoffmania

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The whole point of this thread if I'm reading it right isn't that Farrell should be fired for this decision; it's that the save stat makes this decision the easy one and the one that Kimbrel is comfortable with*. Thus, if the save stat were gone, new bullpen usage would develop -- perhaps one in which the best pitcher is ready to pitch in the most important portion of the game.

*I'm sure part of why Kimbrel is comfortable pitching in a save situation is because compiling saves has made him a lot more money than he'd make pitching in tie games...
Sure, but what's disheartening is that teams continue to employe this sub-optimal usage when there's absolutely no logic to it. A supposedly analytically progressive team like the Sox making dumb decisions still sucks even if the other 29 teams would do the same.

The reason why great closers make a lot of money is because they're great pitchers, not because they get a lot of saves. No one is talking about Brad Boxberger being a top tier pitcher just because he saved the most games last year. If Kimbrel came in yesterday and got the win instead of the save it wouldn't have hurt his value.

This isn't a Farrell issue. It's a team issue. If Farrell bucked convention and made the right move instead of the traditional move it would've been great. But for all we know he has his marching orders. On the other hand, if he has complete discretion over bullpen management then it's another mark against him, although not one that he should be skewered over since everyone else does the same thing. That doesn't make it less dumb though, especially considering Kimbrel's usage lately.

Also people are ignoring the possibility that Kimbrel could've gone more than one inning. Considering how little he's pitched lately and with the off day today, he could've easily pitched two innings if he had a relatively clean 10th.
 

simplicio

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There's not a huge gap between Taz and Kimbrel, so the order between them isn't particularly important.
  • But there is a huge gap between the top two guys in the Twins order and everyone else.
  • Barnes had gotten through 1.2 innings against that same bottom of the order Friday without incident.
  • The Sox yesterday hadn't been demonstrating a consistent ability to score runs, had just blown the heart of their order and needed to plan on multiple extra innings, and Barnes (with Kimbrel and Layne) was one of three guys who hadn't thrown Saturday.
Look, maybe we get to the bottom of the 12th still tied and Farrell throws in Layne instead of Kimbrel against Nunez and Grossman. In that case, I'm a little more on board with the argument; sometimes I wish we'd bring in a closer in the 7th or 8th to face a harder part of the order. But I also don't think you can simply dismiss the effects of stress and pressure on these guys and their ability to do their best work, and I think consistency and clarity of roles are important methods of mitigating that.
 

glennhoffmania

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But I also don't think you can simply dismiss the effects of stress and pressure on these guys and their ability to do their best work, and I think consistency and clarity of roles are important methods of mitigating that.
I'm not directing this only at you but I just don't get this argument at all. Kimbrel generally pitches the 9th inning with a small lead. How is pitching the 14th inning with a small lead not breaking this consistency requirement, but pitching the 9th or 10th in a tie game is unacceptable? These guys are used to high leverage situations. Pitching the bottom of the 10th in a tie game is the definition of high leverage. The idea that asking him to pitch there creates a clarity of role issue makes zero sense to me.
 

8slim

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What is the metric that replaces saves? I'm sure there is something that would be a much better indicator of effectiveness. Is there something that can quantify the ability of a relief pitcher to succeed in explicitly identified high leverage situations? And can that metric be relatively simple to express? Of course the save metric is kinda dumb, but it's easy to understand.
 

moondog80

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I'm not directing this only at you but I just don't get this argument at all. Kimbrel generally pitches the 9th inning with a small lead. How is pitching the 14th inning with a small lead not breaking this consistency requirement, but pitching the 9th or 10th in a tie game is unacceptable? These guys are used to high leverage situations. Pitching the bottom of the 10th in a tie game is the definition of high leverage. The idea that asking him to pitch there creates a clarity of role issue makes zero sense to me.

Kimbrel doesn't see his job as high leverage situations, he sees his job as the last 3 outs in a close game. The 14th with a small lead is still the last 3 outs.

Like I said, I don't love this. It's not optimal. But keeping guys comfortable sometimes involves trade offs.
 

Rudy's Curve

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  • But there is a huge gap between the top two guys in the Twins order and everyone else.
Mauer has a 127 wRC+ against RHP. Given his patience and Barnes' wildness, a walk was a distinct possibility there and if he didn't walk there's a pretty decent chance he gets a hit. The middle/bottom of the order becomes a lot more important when the leadoff guy reaches in a sudden death situation and Barnes shouldn't be considered likely to get the Braves out. Kimbrel has been used extremely sparingly recently (not Farrell's fault, just a function of a lot of blowout wins) and should have pitched before Barnes.
 

tims4wins

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Kimbrel doesn't see his job as high leverage situations, he sees his job as the last 3 outs in a close game. The 14th with a small lead is still the last 3 outs.

Like I said, I don't love this. It's not optimal. But keeping guys comfortable sometimes involves trade offs.
So by this logic, we should never pitch Kimbrel at home in a tie game, even though there will not be any save situations. Got it.
 

j44thor

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Part of this decision could have been to see what Barnes can do in a high leverage situation against a shitty lineup. Theo used to talk about using the first couple months to determine what you actually have on your team. I would have liked to see Kimbrel come in once you had 1st and 3rd with 1 out but this was far from a must win game. Figuring out who you can and can't trust in a big spot can be helpful down the road even if you lose a game or two as a result.

How close was X to catching the line drive that resulted in the second hit? Appeared the ball glanced off his glove though there was never a good replay.
He has been all-world but clearly yesterday was not his best game.
 

joe dokes

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Snark aside, Barnes was brought in to face 3-4-5. Farrell has lost all benefit of the doubt in these situations IMO. He is over his head when it comes to game strategy. Thank god he is such a good Leader of Men (TM).
Then so is every other major league manager who would have "saved" his closer for the "save" in a tie game on the road. Snark aside, I think that group includes approximately 100% of them.
 

tims4wins

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Then so is every other major league manager who would have "saved" his closer for the "save" in a tie game on the road. I think that group includes approximately 100% of them.
In fairness, it is mostly all of the "other stuff" that Farrell has done that has led me to this opinion - it's not what he did yesterday, because like you said, most managers do the same thing - it is that I simply don't give him the benefit of the doubt any more. Whereas back in the day with Tito, I knew there was a good reason for everything he did, even though I didn't agree with it.
 

simplicio

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I'm not directing this only at you but I just don't get this argument at all. Kimbrel generally pitches the 9th inning with a small lead. How is pitching the 14th inning with a small lead not breaking this consistency requirement, but pitching the 9th or 10th in a tie game is unacceptable? These guys are used to high leverage situations. Pitching the bottom of the 10th in a tie game is the definition of high leverage. The idea that asking him to pitch there creates a clarity of role issue makes zero sense to me.
I was thinking less about the effect of being in a non-save situation on Kimbrel's performance and more about the effect of being in a save situation on someone like Layne.
 

Rudy's Curve

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Part of this decision could have been to see what Barnes can do in a high leverage situation against a shitty lineup. Theo used to talk about using the first couple months to determine what you actually have on your team. I would have liked to see Kimbrel come in once you had 1st and 3rd with 1 out but this was far from a must win game. Figuring out who you can and can't trust in a big spot can be helpful down the road even if you lose a game or two as a result.
It's not a must-win game, but they're not the Cubs where they can afford to fuck around and experiment. They're tied for the division lead/only 2.5 games ahead of a playoff spot and winning the division is crucial in the current format. Every game is important.
 

moondog80

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So by this logic, we should never pitch Kimbrel at home in a tie game, even though there will not be any save situations. Got it.

Nice snark, but obviously this is not an absolute rule. At home, there can never be a save in extras, so he pitches in a tie game. On the road, a win in extras almost always involves a save, so they save him for that.

I understand the drawbacks, and it certainly did mean a (slight) decrease in the chance of winning yesterday's game. Do you really think that you and I get this and Farrell/the front office (and every other manager/front office) does not? Or is it possible that they are in a better position to weigh the benefits of managing like it's a computer simulation against keeping actual human beings happy and comfortable? I think the fact that we see lots more computer-simulation-like bullpen usage in the postseason answers that question.
 

Bellhorn

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This is where I am. It reminds me a little of the Pedro or Pete Schourek debate in the 1998 ALDS.
Yeah, except that situation was actually the complete opposite. Since both of those must-win games were of presumably equal difficulty*, there was absolutely no strategic advantage to "front-loading" the starting rotation, and people who argued otherwise were simply being idiots. That is not the case here.

This analogy would hold if there had been some non-trivial probability that half of the Indians team would come down with food poisoning between Games 4 and 5.

* Not precisely equal, of course, due to the issue of home/road split and the opposing starting pitchers. But the possibility of matching the quality of the opposing team's starter in order to maximize the probability of winning both games is a) trivially inconsequential, and b) not what the "You can't win Game 5 if you don't get there first !!11!" crowd had in mind.
 

simplicio

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Apr 11, 2012
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Mauer has a 127 wRC+ against RHP. Given his patience and Barnes' wildness, a walk was a distinct possibility there and if he didn't walk there's a pretty decent chance he gets a hit. The middle/bottom of the order becomes a lot more important when the leadoff guy reaches in a sudden death situation and Barnes shouldn't be considered likely to get the Braves out. Kimbrel has been used extremely sparingly recently (not Farrell's fault, just a function of a lot of blowout wins) and should have pitched before Barnes.
On Friday Barnes inherited Mauer on base. Yes, there was an out in that case, but that inning and the next he had no problems with. I really don't think it's too much to ask of a guy who's really been a pretty decent reliever to put up a scoreless inning or two against baseball's worst offense; he just didn't this time. Again, I'd rather have Kimbrel available to pitch to the two guys who could reasonably be considered dangerous than to pass them off to Layne or a second inning of Barnes, so I have to disagree with your assessment.
 

kieckeredinthehead

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On May 18th, the Cubs were at Milwaukee tied 1-1. Maddon brought in the closer to face the top of the lineup in the 11th. Rondon got them 1-2-3. Cubs didn't score in the 12th. Rondon left in to get another 1-2-3 inning. Cubs score one in the 13th, Travis Wood, Neil Ramirez, and Clayton Richard close it out in the bottom of the 13th. Cubs win.
 

kieckeredinthehead

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On September 16, 2015, the Cubs were in Pittsburgh tied 2-2. Maddon brings in Rondon in the 11th to face the 8-9-1 hitters. He gets them 1-2-3. Cubs score 1 in the top of the 12th, Rondon stays in for the bottom of the inning. Cubs win.
 

kieckeredinthehead

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On July 21, 2015, Cubs were in Cincinnati, tied 4-4. Maddon brings in Rondon in the bottom of the 9th to face the 8-9-1 hitters. No score. Rondon is left in for the bottom of the 10th. Reds don't score. He then goes down the order of worse relievers, who eventually hold on and the Cubs score in the top of the 13th. Cubs win.
 

kieckeredinthehead

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On July 1, 2015, the Cubs are in New York tied 0-0. Rondon brought in to the bottom of the 9th to face 6-7-8. He pitches one perfect inning. Motte pitches a scoreless tenth, Cubs score two in the 11th and James Russell gets 3-4-5 to close it. Cubs win.