At the beginning of the season, the Tigers had a plan for closing out games. Kyle Farnsworth in the 7th, Ugueth Urbina in the 8th, and Troy Percival in the 9th. Of course Urbina had to be traded (I am kind of curious who he would have chosen to fight with had he been in the brawl?), and with yesterday’s announcement that Percival is out for the season the Tigers are in need of a new plan. Of course Farnsworth moves into the closer’s role, but what happens beyond that?
Reader Jeff sent me this email (and to his credit this was prior to Monday’s collapse by Chris Spurling)
Rodney, German, or Spurling comes in in the 7th to relieve the starter. He
pitches a perfect 7th. The anointed setup man comes in to start the 8th.
I don’t care if the setup man does well, what’s the point in using two guys,
when one is capable of going two innings? You’re just increasing the
possibility of having a pitcher that’s having a bad night. If the first
one’s dealing, run with it.
Jeff is correct in that I do agree with him in large part. In Spurling, Franklyn German, and Fernando Rodney there are 3 pitchers who are all capable of going multiple innings, and who are only recently starting to seperate themselves based on performance.
Player Games IP H HR ERA K9 BB9
Fernando Rodney 11 15 2/3 16 3 2.87 12.64 1.72
Franklyn German 12 13 1/3 13 2 3.38 4.05 5.4
Chris Spurling 16 15 2/3 17 4 5.17 3.45 2.87
These stats are since Urbina was traded, when everyone’s role was bumped up. Keep in mind that 75% of the homers, and half of the runs that Spurling has allowed came on Monday. And for Rodney a third of his strikeouts came in that spectacular 7 K performance on Friday night. Up until that point, the stats among the 3 were fairly comparable.
In the same email Jeff sent me a link to an article in which Trammell even seemed open to the idea…
Now riding the hot hand would indicate that Rodney should be the set-up man, and I don’t think too many people would argue with that. But back to the point that Jeff was getting at, if a guy cruises through the 7th, don’t hand the ball to the annointed set-up man automatically to start the 8th. And just to continue the thought a little further, don’t be afraid to use the hot hand in the 7th if the game is tight or on the line…
Which brings us to the debacle on Monday night. I’m not one of the people who have been calling for Trammell’s head, and I’ve found myself defending him against some of the dumber criticism he has received. It’s my belief that managers have little effect on the outcome of games. That being said, I put Monday’s loss squarely on Trammell’s shoulders.
I don’t fault Trammell for taking out Sean Douglass. While the 6th was uneventful, he had pitched through several jams and was over 100 pitches. The Tigers have had a solid bullpen so it made sense to trust it. I also don’t fault Trammell for his choice of Chris Spurling who had been solid. Trammell had no reason to believe that Spurling would allow a homer on the first pitch, or 3 well hit balls after that. However, after several well hit balls, something needed to be done.
Rodney was throwing in the pen, but he requires a long time to warm up (as we now know). However, with things going down hill quickly, the Tigers need to stall to get Rodney more time. Or at least get one of the other relievers who are quicker to get loose ready. Spurling made bad pitches, and he got hammered. However, he shouldn’t have been out there to give up the last two homers.
I’m not a big fan of hindsight because it typically just frustrates you, and it’s hard to know if someone is telling the truth or not. I know there are no guarantees that whoever would have come in would have been successful. If German comes in and gives up the homer, I’m frustrated with German. Trammell would have done what he could at that point, and it was up to the players to get the job done. Instead, by sticking with a pitcher who didn’t have it, the manager let a game get away.
Now I’m not slamming Trammell as a manager. I don’t agree with all of his decisions, but that is more a matter of having a different philosophy. And really, I should probably give the guy with 30 years of experience in baseball the benefit of the doubt. I’m criticizing him for his actions (or inactions) in this game.