Sunday, August 21, 2005

The Gardentool Chronicles

A couple ways to break down Lohse's performance Saturday, by the numbers:

1st time through the order: 2-9; single, double; .222/.222/.333
2nd time through the order: 0-9; 1 reached on error
3rd time through the order: 3-8; single, 2 HR; .375/.375/1.125

First 45 pitches: 2-15; .133/.133/.200
From 46-92 pitches: 3-11; .273/.273/.818

The first 45 pitches covers the game through Jeremy Reed reaching base on the Abernathy error to lead off the 5th. At that point, the Twins had a 2-0 lead, and Lohse had retired 8 straight batters since Reed doubled in the 2nd. Lohse proceeded to retire the #7-9 hitters on a couple groundouts and a strikeout, closing out the 5th inning. Lohse began his third time through the order when Ichiro led off the 6th. Ichiro lined out to Cuddyer, Willie Bloomquist singled to Rightfield, and Raul Ibanez hit into a double play. The #4-5-6 hitters were due to get their third look at Lohse in the 7th.

Sitting at home, Jenn and I both saw a Bad Moon Rising over Kyle Lohse. We both called the Sexson homer. If you give good hitters more than a couple looks at Kyle Lohse, you're asking for trouble. If you don't have a clear understanding of your players' strengths and weaknesses, at some points you're going to be unwittingly setting them up to fail. Which is what Ron Gardenhire did to his starting pitcher on Saturday.

Gardenhire probably sent Lohse out for the 7th because he was working on a shutout, had only given up 3 hits and no walks, and he'd thrown just 78 pitches. I'd guess he hoped to save the bullpen that one extra inning of work, too. That would be solid reasoning if the pitcher had been someone we could trust to go deep into games. When your pitcher has allowed batters to hit .389/.410/.722 from the 7th inning onward this season, and your top priority is to steal a win from Felix the Phenom, you pat Kyle Lohse on the back and bring in Jesse Crain to pitch the 7th. Give Brad Radke the responsibility of saving the bullpen on Sunday afternoon.

Instead, the manager sent out Lohse to take an assignment he generally can't handle. Lohse grooved pitches down the middle to Sexson and Beltre, when he was ahead of both batters in the count, and despite the fact that the batters following Beltre were Jeremy Reed (a rookie hitting .258/.325/.354), Greg Dobbs (4-A player, .200/.221/.278 in 95 major league PA's), and Yuniesky Betancourt (rookie midsummer callup, hitting .270/.289/.378). Boom--Sexson and Beltre hit back-to-back jacks. The 2-0 lead has evaporated, and the game is eventually lost in the 10th with the third reliever out of the pen, the team longman, on the mound. But the keys to the game were decisions made to start off the top of the 7th inning.

Why did Sexson and Beltre even see a pitch over the plate in the 7th? Because we're talking about Kyle Lohse.

And why was Lohse even on the mound in that inning? Because the team is managed by a Tool.

7 Comments:

At 8/21/2005 9:20 PM, Anonymous bjhess said...

I don't follow many other teams, but I would highly doubt there is an AL manager that would sit a pitcher throwing a three-hit shutout with 78 pitches in the 7th inning. The only way I see it happening is if a pitcher gives an indication that he is spent (ala Carlos Silva).

I could be completely wrong, and the strategy isn't probably very good, but that's my perception.

 
At 8/21/2005 9:21 PM, Anonymous bjhess said...

Oh, and my blog link on your site is still wrong (http://blog.bjhess.com).

 
At 8/22/2005 3:34 PM, Blogger frightwig said...

About a week ago, Gardy took out Silva after 7 innings and 86 pitches in a 1-1 game. I don't know, did Silva say he was spent that day?

Maybe most managers would have let Lohse pitch through the 7th. But I think a good manager needs to be realistic about his players' strengths and weaknesses, and tailor his strategies accordingly. Kyle Lohse just isn't likely to shut out a batting order three times through the lineup. Counting on him to do it seems a bit like sending Jones up to bat against a lefty in the 9th, thinking he'll deliver because he's already 3-for-3 against lefty pitching on the day.

If you send Lohse back out to face the middle of the order in the 7th, protecting a 2-run lead, I think you better have a quick hook after the Sexson HR, or the pitching coach needs to visit the mound to tell him in no uncertain terms that Beltre is not to see a strike inside the black.

Maybe that's an unusually close attention to detail, but it also could have been the difference between winning and losing the game. I think that's also the difference between a mediocre pushbutton manager and one who can get something extra out of his team.

 
At 8/22/2005 3:35 PM, Blogger frightwig said...

Oh, and the link is fixed. Thanks for letting me know.

 
At 8/22/2005 8:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, I was watching the White Sox game on Sunday and saw the manager make a total bonehead play - he sends out Randy Johnson to pitch the fourth after three perfect innings. What a tool!

Iguchi - solo homer
Rowand - solo homer
Konerko - solo homer (on an 0-2 pitch!)
Dye - first pitch single
Uribe - first pitch single
Widger - three run homer (the second two-strike homer of the inning!)

Giving up a two-strike homer to Chris Widger? Man, that Randy Johnson is a bum, and Joe Torre is a tool.

--
David Wintheiser

 
At 8/22/2005 9:28 PM, Blogger frightwig said...

Does Randy Johnson typically have a problem getting through the 4th inning, or the 2nd time through the order?

It looks like you completely missed the point, David.

 
At 8/23/2005 10:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's entirely possible I missed the point. I've been told I do that.

On the other hand, reading your essay gives a decidedly one-sided view of the situation. You cite Lohse's numbers in various pitch blocks as if somehow the 46th pitch was more significant than the 45th (I know, you didn't assemble the stats, but there it is). You cite his late inning numbers as if he's one of the few pitchers in the league who gets less effective after the 6th inning than he was in the first three innings - even with as little practical baseball experience as I have, I can assure you that's not the case. And your conclusion implies that there's no circumstance under which it seems to make sense to send Lohse out in the 7th inning, regardless of how well he's pitched the first six; a strategy which, if followed, merely guarantees that the club gets nothing of value out of Lohse beyond six innings, and if he happens to be off, then not as much even before then.

Oh, and as for Randy Johnson?

Randy Johnson - 2005 (Opp BA/OPS)
Inn 1-3: .251/709
Inn 4-6: .288/832

Even before Sunday's game, Johnson had allowed more homers in innings 4-6 than any other pitcher on the Yankee staff.

If your numbers 'prove' that we should sit Lohse after six innings, regardless, then how do these numbers not 'prove' that Joe Torre should sit Johnson after three?

Don't get me wrong - I usually like what you post. But in this case, I thought you were somewhat off-base in your criticism and that a little hyperbolic humor (or at least an attempt at same) might help point that out. Numbers are great, but sometimes you need to have them with a bit of salt.

--
David Wintheiser

 

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