Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Sticking to a Formula in the Face of Reality

This writer was having a great internal debate. The problem with such a debate is that both sides are biased. Such is the problem of writing about baseball from the wastelands of Maine. The debate was about having relief pitchers know their roles versus sticking to those roles even when it isn't working. The Yankees had a formula earlier in the year with Joba in the seventh, Soriano in the eighth and Rivera in the ninth. It worked once. Two thirds of that formula are out for the year. Last night, the Brewers played the Cubs and essentially lost a 1-0 game because manager, Ron Roenicke, stuck to his formula.

Jaymes Langrehr is one of this writer's favorite team-centric writers. He covers the Milwaukee Brewers and had the correct take on Ron Roenicke's explanation that Kameron Loe is his eighth inning guy, so it wasn't the wrong call. In fact, Roenicke took exception to the question. Langrehr doesn't go into specifics on why Roenicke was wrong, probably because he writes to a fan base that already knows what is going on. But for those of you who do not follow the Brewers regularly, let this writer explain.

Kameron Loe sucks in those situations. Okay. Post over. You can go on with your lives now. Okay, that's not enough information. When is Loe the least effective? In tie games. What is his OPS against in tie games? .956. When is his strikeout to walk ratio at its worst? Tie games. He's pitched now in ten tie games and has lost five of them. His other loss was a blown save. And this isn't a one year fluke either. Loe had a good year last year. But when was he at his worst? Tie games.

Roenicke's defense that Loe is his eighth inning guy is the height of stubbornness. On the one hand, it's good that guys know their roles. And as a general rule, Loe has pitched well in most other situations. When his team is ahead or behind, he's been okay. But how many games will Roenicke lose before he understands that tie games are not games you should bring in Kameron Loe? The Brewers do have a guy who excels in those situations. His name is Mike McClendon. The guy is a vulture and is 5-0 in his career when entering tie games. Some guys simply smell a win in those situations and McClendon seems to be one of those guys. He is the anti-Loe in that department. His best stats across the board are in tie games. But McClendon is in the minors despite three such wins this year. In the age of specialization, maybe each team should have a tie score guy.

This writer understands that all of this is based on small sample sizes. Feel free to bash this post over this writer's head. It's happened before. No hard feelings. But the view here is that if Roenicke puts Loe in another one of those situations, it's on him and not Kameron Loe. Because managing is more than just keeping guys in their assigned roles. It's also about giving his players and his team the best opportunity to succeed.

1 comment:

Chris Richards said...

I think the real issue more than going with Loe in a tie game (a point which seems to stretch credulity given the small sample size) was the Brewers pedestrian defense. If Ryan Braun makes what should have been a makeable catch at the wall that inning, the Loe conversation is moot.