Sunday, June 17, 2018
Happy Father's Day
I have been asked a few times now my thought about the shift of defenders in baseball and most recently Tampa starting a reliever.
While O'Neill constantly pokes fun at the shift and points out every time it doesn't work; there is no question it works more often than it doesn't. Forgetting the times they hit into the teeth of the shift, think about how many times a ball is hit up the middle now and it is an out instead of a hit? If players start to drop more bunts or drive the ball the other way more often then we can see if it still has the benefit, but it clearly does now. The part of it that surprises me is that the pitching hasn't adjusted as much to pitch to the shift. I see a lefty shift (the defenders on the 2nd base side) and the pitcher throws a fastball on the outside corner with 2 strikes which would make it easier to hit into the open side of the shift. I get the idea of pitching normally, you still need to try and make people hit the ball weakly, but I haven't seen a concentrated effort to allow a player to hit into the shift. Anyway, I am in favor of shifting and the stats show it works!
As for what Tamps is doing regarding starting a reliever; my take is that it doesn't make as much sense as other situations do for me. The concept has some logic, but there are too many variables that don't make sense to me. For example, the idea of having good relievers pitch leverage situations is one I believe in; even to the point of having your closer possibly pitch the 8th inning because the meat of the order is up...or the 7th inning has bases loaded and nobody out and you are winning by 4; why not bring your best pitcher right then because this is the time to limit runs more than any other (most likely). This is countered by having your closer pitch earlier in the game and the mindset (or comfort) could be different. Many relievers (closers in particular) are creatures of habit and that can throw them off. Getting back to what TB is doing, they argue that the 3rd time through a lineup the numbers go far in favor of the hitters so having a good matchup in the 1st inning against the better part of the order will help the 3rd time situation and also help stop runs in the 1st inning where the most runs are typically scored. This is the one part that makes sense to me as the better hitters are up and the starting pitcher is less likely to be in a groove. However, you are asking a reliever to start a game and then a starter would be coming in after the start of the game (different mindset and comfort zone for each). Overall, I don't think the benefit is worth it, but if you stuck with it, the comfort zones should be reduced a lot. My feeling about the 3rd time through the lineup difference is that it is just as much about a pitcher getting tired as it is seeing a guy the 3rd time...otherwise, the 2nd time through the lineup would be better than the 1st and we just discussed the 1st inning being the highest scoring inning. Obviously, the pitcher may be in more of a groove the 2nd time through as well, but you get the point.
Tomorrow I will write what I would do if I were a manager that isn't done now.
One quick correction; Didi had hit a HR in 3 straight games before last nights game (I had written 2 in a row)
Sanchez made a phenomenal throw from his knees to barely nab a base stealer in the 1st inning. He got a huge assist from Torres who let the ball travel and made a great tag.
Tampa is a weak team, but Severino was dominant. 8 shutout innings while allowing only 3 singles and 2 walks, striking out 9. He is now 10-2 with a 2.09 ERA and is one of the best pitchers in the game. He had 102 pitches and they chose to take him out, I think 110-115 pitches is not too much and I would have left him in, but can't really argue it. Shreve allowed a HR and a triple, although Hicks had it fully in his glove and it just popped out. On the triple, the runner overran the bag as he slipped past it and Andujar tagged him out. I watched it 4 times and he got him before he retouched the bag. Not sure why we didn't challenge that? I wasn't keeping track of challenges so maybe we didn't have any left, but he was out and it should have been challenged. Instead, we brought in Chapman and he pitched great getting his 20th save.
Our righties did the damage with Judge getting 2 doubles (one was a laser to CF where the OF'r was playing only 6 feet in front of the track and it beat him to the wall) while Stanton and Sanchez went yard!
LeBlanc blanked the Red Sox 1-0 as Seattle has taken 2 games from Boston and is only 1/2 a game behind Houston who has won 10 in a row. I haven't looked at their team yet, but without Cano, they are doing great.