after shane victorino's game-breaking double in the 8th yesterday, brian gunn (of redbird nation fame, for any who don't know) paid a rare but welcome visit to the VEB game thread with a concise critique of la russa's bullpen usage --- or mis-usage, in this case. suffice to say that flores was not the right choice there, as a number of VEBbers pointed out in real time. which reliever was the right choice? i'm with brian on this one:
izzy already has logged four outings this season of 1.2 innings or longer, with no loss of effectiveness --- he's combined for 7.1 innings in those games, yielding just 4 hits and 1 run. and in one instance, he came back the next day to pitch one inning for the save. nor has is'hausen suffered any loss of success in non-save situations: he has thrown 12.1 innings in non-save conditions and allowed just 1 run. this isn't really a critique of la russa; as brian intimated, that's not the way the game is managed in this day and age. i also know that the boston red sox, at bill james' behest, experimented with their bullpen in 2003, eschewing the now-traditional "designated closer" role for a theory based on situations and matchups. the experiment failed, deepening the already entrenched belief that proper bullpen management requires reserving your best reliever out for save situations. but it's a bogus theory, and one that only recently (the last 20 years or so) became universal. as rich lederer put it two years ago at baseball analysts:
* * * * * * * * *i haven't watched the entire start yet, but from what i can tell kip wells made one major adjustment yesterday: he stopped trying to pitch to spots and started throwing everything right over the plate. if you have a chance, go back and look at where stinnett was set up yesterday. most of the time, you'll see the catcher shift position from pitch to pitch --- inside corner, outside corner, off the outside corner if they're trying to get somebody to chase. but stinnett hardly moved yesterday when wells was on the mound; he just sat there behind the plate most of the time, dead center. that's a sensible approach with wells, whose pitches have so much natural movement that they'll end up off-center even if he throws it right down the pipe. the other change he seemed to make --- again, i haven't run the chart yet, so this is just an eyeball-level impression --- is that he seemed to pitch more off his fastball, particularly against the weaker hitters in the philadelphia order. when facing utley and howard, he led with his off-speed pitches --- changeups and curves --- but he started almost everybody else off with a fastball, sometimes two or three fastballs, and then reached into his well-stuffed quiver and shot off a change or a hook or a sinker to get the guy out. i've charted this guy all year, and he can make the ball do so many things that he sometimes makes the game too complicated; he tries to use every trick in his bag to keep hitters off-balance, but only ends up unbalancing himself. i think his changeup and curve are far more effective when hitters only see them once an at-bat --- both pitches really come as a shock, throw guys' timing way off. and when he uses them selectively, wells doesn't have to throw either pitch to the perfect location; he can throw them to the fat part of the plate and let their (off-)speed, rather than placement, do the work.
it was only one outing, and a short one at that; he did give up two walks in five innings, and he did get tagged for a triple and a couple of long, loud outs. but for just the third time all year, wells yielded fewer than 3 runs in a start; if not for the rain delay, he probably would have recorded his fourth "quality start" of the season. you gotta start somewhere.
- ever wonder how ernie broglio's career ended? he tells the la times: "I asked the clubhouse guy if he had any lighter fluid. I took all my underpants, my jockstrap, shirts and a bunch of other stuff, piled them in the middle of the floor and lit them on fire."
- the cardinals could fixed their pitching staff with this guy for $35 million or so . . . .
- mike carminati notes some history anthony reyes hopes note to make