Sunday, July 19, 2009

Pitching Ace Pinch Runs

So the Astros were losing to the Dodgers going into the ninth inning on Saturday, 5-2, and faced Jonathan Broxton in the ninth. Broxton promptly walked Tejada. He then gave up a single to shortstop. Broxton then whiffed Pence and Coste. Two outs, men on first and second. Lance Berkman pinch hits for Michaels and walked. If Broxton walked Berkman on purpose, it was brilliant even if it was the tying run. With the bases loaded and the tying run on first, the Astros send out arguably their best pitcher, Wandy Rodriguez, to run for Berkman. Whuh?

Sure pitchers have been pinch runners in years past. But did it ever make sense? First, pitchers hardly ever get on base and would be less prepared to have the instincts needed to make the right decisions. Secondly, only a double that bangs around the wall awhile or a triple is going to score a runner from first, so why wouldn't any old bench player do?

All strategy aside, we're talking about the Astros best pitcher. Pitching is gold these days. Teams like the Red Sox hoard it like 1849 panhandlers in California. Why would you risk injury to your best pitcher on a long shot that he may score from first base on a double or a triple. That's a lot of hard and wild running to ask a non-hitter to do. And no other lesser pitcher was available to run?

The Astros were fortunate that Ivan Rodriguez pinch hit and struck out to end the game. It did mean the game, but they were fortunate that Wandy didn't have to run the bases.


Windman said...

Someone that can run like the wind has that talent, regardless of current occupational title.

Not to mention, strategically it is always best not to waste position players on a hunch as you never know what extra innings might bring should the game go in that direction.

Anonymous said...

Are pitchers made of glass these days?

They represent just another player on the squad and if they are faster than the man on base, pinch them in and increase your chances of scoring.

This American League attitude is laughable...

William said...

Appreciate the comments. Will respectfully continue to disagree.

Josh Borenstein said...

If the game is on the line, I wouldn't completely rule out using a pitcher as a pinch runner. Even an ace. I think you're still haunted by Chien-Ming Wang's freak injury last year.