Thursday, May 6, 2010

Neyer Discusses Saving K-Rod for Last

In an interesting article for Rob Neyer answers a tough question from a Mets fan concerned about Jerry's handling of the bullpen (specifically K-Rod) in extra innings this past week.

In the article the question is posed to Neyer as to why the Mets didn't use K-Rod more in extra innings of the Reds series.  To which Neyer responds with a detailed log of who the Mets used and when, when K-Rod has been used lately, and then launches into a discussion about extra inning bullpen usage as the away team.  In specifc Neyer talks about the issue of having the potential to need the closer on the road in extra innings and how that seems to handcuff managers.

In the end Neyer comes down against "waiting for the save situation that might never arrive."  While, on the whole, I agree with this theory, it's never that simple.  There's pitcher usage, situations and other factors to should be taken more into account when talking about extra inning usage. 

Let's take a look at the Mets/Reds bullpen usage for the series for instance...

According to Neyer, "Monday night, Oliver Perez pitched six innings and was succeeded by Jenrry Mejia, Fernando Nieve, Pedro Feliciano, and finally Manny Acosta in the 11th, when Cincinnati's Laynce Nix hit the walkoff homer."  Neyer Continues, " Tuesday night, John Maine went six innings, then was followed by Mejia, Nieve, Feliciano (notice a pattern here?) and finally Francisco Rodriguez, who dispatched the Reds with 13 pitches to earn the save. "  And  then finally, "Wednesday afternoon, Jonathan Niese started and went six innings. He was replaced by Hisanori Takahashi, who went three clean innings. Feliciano took over the 10th and the game was over five pitches later."

Jerry overused Nieve and Feliciano while under-utilizing K-Rod in the series.  As for the overarching idea of closer usage in extra innings on the road.  I think managers should ALWAYS throw your best chance out there to win at all times.  K-Rod is a better choice than Manny Acosta in game one, and using Feliciano in a third game in a row probably also wasn't the best choice in game three.  So while it's not necessarily as easy as throwing your "best pitcher" out there, it should be about getting your best chance to win out there, and that's not what Jerry seems to do. 

One thing is clear about Jerry and his bullpen usage.  He has his guys and he sticks to them.  But I wonder, why isn't K-Rod one of Jerry's guys?

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