To borrow from Kenny Rogers (not the baseball player), “You‘
Seth Maness came to the mound to pitch the 8th inning of a 2-2 game. He struck out Russell Martin. Then back-to-back singles came by Gaby Sanchez and Starling Marte. Then he got Clint Barmes to line out. Ike Davis got the call to pinch hit.
Up until now, Maness had faced four straight right handed batters. Batters he holds to a .252/.271/.333 line this season. But now Pirates manager Clint Hurdle was turning to the left handed Davis to turn the tide. Maness allows left handers a line of .307/.351/.500 off of him. Davis hits .254 this season against right handed pitchers, as opposed .100 against left handed ones.
So the obvious strategic decision is to go to one of your three left handed relievers in the bullpen, right? Not if your name is Mike Matheny.
Matheny chose to stick with Maness against Davis and we all saw how that played out, a three-run home run and the win.
Matheny was rightfully asked about why he elected not to go with one of the left handed relievers he had in the bullpen. Like Randy Choate (.111 v LHB) or Tyler Lyons (.091 v LHB) or Nick Greenwood (.256 v LHB) who all presented better options against Davis. Matheny answered that he believes Hurdle would have used a second pinch hitter to let a right handed batter face his lefty reliever.
The two right handed batters Hurdle had on his bench were Jordy Mercer and Chris Stewart. Stewart is the backup catcher, so it would have been Mercer, IF Hurdle chose to make the move. For Hurdle, it’s not so easy a decision to make.
If you chose to bring in Mercer to face Choate (Matheny indicated that it would probably have been him based on quotes) and the Cardinals escape the inning, you’re potentially heading to extra innings with only your backup catcher available off the bench. On the road. With a day game tomorrow.
For Matheny I’d ask, what’s the point in having four left handed relievers in your bullpen if you’re not willing to use one in a strategically obvious position?
“Any time we bring Randy (Choate) in, — in my opinion — we have to be in a game-changing situation,” said Matheny after the game to the Post-Dispatch.
Good call Mike. Not like it wasn’t a game-changing situation or anything.