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The "save your closer in extras on the road" rule (Mergers: Baseball Prospectus article; Yost defends himself for not using Cordero)


adambr2

There is an unwritten rule in baseball, usually followed, to save your closer for a lead in extras on the road. It has bugged me for a long time, and it costed us tonight. I am going to go ahead and explain why I hate it. Feel free to agree or disagree with me, I'll make my points as clear as possible:

 

First, to address the standard rebuttal, Who would close if the Brewers got the lead?

 

I don't know. Spurling? Villanueva? Does it matter? Is there a law that says only your closer can close? No one else can come in and pitch the last scoreless inning with a close lead? Will the sky fall if this happens?

 

Let's say Cordero pitches the 12th, and holds them scoreless, and the Brewers get 2 in the top of the 13th against the weak Red's pen. It's 3-1. Are you really angry that Cordero isn't available? Or are you just grateful that Cordero actually got you to the point where you could take the lead?

 

I'll definitely vote for the latter, I'd MUCH rather see Spurling or Balfour with a 3-1 lead to close out the 13th than a 1-1 game where giving up a run loses it. If it gets to that point where you have to do that, so be it. But you can't get there without keeping the score tied.

 

Let's say the Brewers DO go up 3-1, and Balfour comes in for the 13th and blows up like he did in the 12th. Am I going to blame Ned for burning Cordero too early?

 

Hell no I wouldn't blame him for that. If Balfour came in with a 3-1 lead and performed as he did tonight, we already would have lost it in the 12th with him, see? That's why the philosophy is flawed. I wouldn't have had a situation in the 13th to get angry ABOUT. I would have still been ticked at Balfour, but at least we would have still been up 3-2, still a chance to pull out the victory.

 

Every inning on the road in extras with the score tied is 3 more outs that you MUST get to give your lineup another chance to win it.

 

I think I was calling for Cordero in the 10th or 11th. I didn't think we were going to be able to hold up past those 2 innings. I believe that you start extras with your best relievers in this situation, because you MUST keep the game tied, the alternative is, you lose.

 

Suppose Cordero keeps it scoreless in the 12th and the offense explodes and we go up 6-1 in the 13th. Suddenly, it doesn't even matter who comes out in the 13th, we're going to win. We don't KNOW if that would have happened, because we used Balfour with Cordero still available, and that was it. So we never had a chance.

 

I know it is against standard baseball philosophy. I just strongly disagree with it, always have. I think it's stupid.

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I've always thought your best reliever should pitch in the most crucial situation.

 

The problem is, the save stat is tied to money, and the manager has to keep his pitcher happy.

 

What point is more important?

 

Bases loaded, no out in the 7th in a 4-1 game... or 9th inning, no one on, no one out in the same 4-1 game.

 

Obviously, the 7th is much more high leverage. I'd want Coco in the game in that situation, only it will never happen.

 

Pretty much, the only team that runs their team this way is the A's, and that comes straight down from Billy Beane in the front office.

"I wasted so much time in my life hating Juventus or A.C. Milan that I should have spent hating the Cardinals." ~kalle8

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I agree with the Save your Closer rule when you are on the road. The truth of the matter is, if you do end up scoring in the top of the next inning, you will still have to pitch a scrub the inning afterward. So there is really little difference.

 

You can't run your closer out there every night. If Cordero was run out there as much as many of you would like, he'd be on the DL right now. I mean, how many times this season have we heard this same line "Yost should have brought in Cordero." My guess is it's probably been about a dozen times.. Add another 12 innings to Cordero's already heavy work load, and we'd have an injured closer. Just goes to show, why I'm glad we have Ned Yost as our manager and not Dusty Baker (or posters who want to overuse pitchers like Dusty would do).

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I believe it was the smart call to bring Balfour out there to start the 12th. But once there was 2 on with none out, that's a time you bring in your best reliever, because without holding them now, you'll never have the lead.

 

Problem there is its impossible to get him ready in that short of time, and impossible to foresee needing him.

 

In short, there was nothing Yost really could do tonight. Balfour lost the game, simple as that.

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The truth of the matter is, if you do end up scoring in the top of the next inning, you will still have to pitch a scrub the inning afterward. So there is really little difference.

 

If a scrub gives up 1 run when you're tied on the road, you lose. If a scrub gives up 1 run when you have a lead, you're *at worst* tied (could possibly still have the lead if you scored multiple runs). So, there is a difference. A big difference. You want to give the scrub more wiggle room, and use your best reliever in tighter situations.

 

Plus, prioritizing Point B (save situation) over Point A (current situation) is non-sensical, since Point B doesn't exist without getting past Point A.

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It's not nonsensical since you can't run your closer out every night as I pointed out. He can't be used on a nightly basis, only when there is a tight lead to be held on to (or a tie game at home). He's already overworked pitching in just those circumstances, and now you want to add more innings to him? That's setting yourself up for an injury IMO.

 

If he hadn't pitched in a week, that would be one thing. But we just got done with a week of close games, in which he had to pitch quite a bit. Giving him a night off wasn't as dumb as you are making it out to be.

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this can be debated to the point of nauseum, all I have to add to the thread is if Milwaukee's "potent" offense could have managed more than 1 run in TWELVE at bats against the last place team in its division, who happens to have the worst pitching staff in the NL, we wouldn't have to argue about what amounts to a hill of beans over the course of a season.

 

Just because cordero's a closer doesn't mean he has to pitch in every game that's close late - his arm would have fallen off by now. Milwaukee lost this game in the 11th, when they had the bases juiced, no outs, and didn't scratch a run across. So yes, had Cordero pitched the 12th, the Brewers probably get to the 13th...then what? If they don't score, do they run coco back out for the bottom half with 7 games still looming in 6 days?

 

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It's not nonsensical since you can't run your closer out every night as I pointed out...Giving him a night off wasn't as dumb as you are making it out to be.

 

That's a completely different issue. If he was being rested, and wasn't going to be used no matter what the game situation was, that's totally different. That's not what we're discussing though.

 

We're talking about what the proper action is, assuming the pitcher is available. Either way, I'd be willing to bet if a save situation had come along, Cordero would've been in there.

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Cordero has thrown less than 40 innings this season. He's thrown over 80 in a season in his career. I don't see how worrying about an injury should be a factor when deciding whether to use him in a "crucial" vs. "save" situation.

 

There are plenty of games that Cordero isn't used. Blowouts, late deficits. Those are games where we don't need Cordero. A tie game on the road in extra innings is a situation that we do. Those games average out in the end, we're not going to need 90 innings out of CoCo this season.

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We're talking about what the proper action is, assuming the pitcher is available. Either way, I'd be willing to bet if a save situation had come along, Cordero would've been in there.

 

I think he would have been in there too. The point I was making is that we have been successful enough this year, that our closer has been using all of his available innings in the "normal" save situations, if not abused somewhat. That's why I think it was wise to only use him if that situation came up. The formula keeps his innings manageable and prevents him from being overused and abused.

 

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Cordero has thrown less than 40 innings this season. He's thrown over 80 in a season in his career. I don't see how worrying about an injury should be a factor when deciding whether to use him in a "crucial" vs. "save" situation.

 

There are plenty of games that Cordero isn't used. Blowouts, late deficits. Those are games where we don't need Cordero. A tie game on the road in extra innings is a situation that we do. Those games average out in the end, we're not going to need 90 innings out of CoCo this season.


 

So the fact that he's been abused in the past, and somehow managed to make it through without an injury is somehow an excuse to abuse him this year and expect the same? 40 innings is a lot for a closer at this point in the season, and that of course doesn't count all the times he's warmed up and not come in. One of the reason he started struggling in Texas was because he was overused, and the same things started to happen before the All Star Break this year. We need a healthy Cordero if we are going to compete for the playoffs, and that means limiting his innings as much as possible so he is as effective as possible.

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That's why I think it was wise to only use him if that situation came up.

 

I guess I don't see what the difference is. An inning is an inning. If he pitches the 12th instead of the 13th, it shouldn't make any difference.

 

I understand what you're saying though, that if you used the ace reliever in all "high leverage" situations, he would get used too much because almost every game has a high leverage situation, but not necessarily a save situation. At that point, it'd be up to the manager's discretion to not overuse the pitcher. On second thought, I'm not sure Ned could be trusted to do that. Maybe it is better that he has an automatic time to use Cordero, which will self-regulate his use.

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I'm pretty ambivalent, because the sum total doesn't change, you still need someone else to pitch an inning. Yes, it works out very nicely if you score before they do, but otherwise it doesn't matter.

 

So if you want to argue the premise that the team scores the next inning, then absolutely throw the closer first, but that's a different argument.

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40 innings is a lot for a closer at this point in the season,

 

Not really. 69 innings is the fewest Cordero has thrown in a season since 2002, and he's been as high as 83. Usually he's in the mid 70's or so. He's currently on pace for 65. He hasn't been overworked.

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Not really. 69 innings is the fewest Cordero has thrown in a season since 2002, and he's been as high as 83. Usually he's in the mid 70's or so. He's currently on pace for 65. He hasn't been overworked.

 

Like I said, abuse in previous seasons does not make it ok for this season. He's definitely seen a lot of work in the past week as well (think of all the close games in the Arizona series). And as was pointed out, you can't pitch him in every tight situation because you'll run into one of those nearly every game.

 

All signs pointed toward playing wait and see with Cordero tonight. Recent work, amount of IP this season (in comparison to many closers he has pitched quite a few innings and that doesn't include all the times he's warmed up and hasn't gone in), not having a lead. It made sense to give him the night off, unless he was needed. Like I said, if he pitched every time people on this site wanted him to, his arm would have fallen off by now. I doubt any Major League manager would have done differently.

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I agree with the saving your closer on the road rule. I'd rather have our best reliever on the mound when we have a lead and are trying to win rather than trying not to lose. If we use Cordero and lose the next inning, we've just wasted an inning from our best reliever. Since it looks like we have a good shot at the playoffs, I wouldn't want to overuse Coco now and regret it in October.
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Well, The Save stat is such a money maker for closers, that no team would really follow this, but.... It isn't that I would rather see Cordero in EVERY save situation AND tie game situation (like tonight), but if you put him in tonight and he shuts them down in the 12th you have another chance. If the score is 4-1, or even 4-0 with a guy on base, and it becomes a save situation, I don't necessarily think Cordero HAS to be in. Turnbow is more than capable of nailing down a 3 run lead. In fact, with a 3 run lead, I think most of our pitchers could throw i scoreless inning.
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He's definitely seen a lot of work in the past week as well (think of all the close games in the Arizona series).

 

Huh? Before yesterday he didn't pitch since July 17th, that's 4 days off with the all star break a few days before that.

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Huh? Before yesterday he didn't pitch since July 17th, that's 4 days off with the all star break a few days before that.

 

And he had pitched in four games straight before he got a few days off. He's been as worked as any of our RPs, and like you said, he pitched last night as well. The allstar "break" wasn't much of one, since Cordero pitched in the All Star game. So basically, he didn't have a break from pitching during the All Star game, and he's pitched in over half of the games since the break.

 

The point is this, using him at that point didn't make much since because you could end up using an inning of your best RP in a game that you could end up losing. An inning that could be far more valuable later in the season, in a game where a victory (not just a tie) is on the line. I'm all for being careful with Cordero, because without him, our bullpen would fall apart.

 

It is convenient that there seems to be the idea that the Brewers terrible hitting would have somehow changed in the 13th, had Cordero been brought in. There are no guarantees that they would have scored in that inning either, and then you have the same issue. It was Balfour's chance to sink or swim, and he sank like a stone.

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I've been on this boat for a while. To me, it seems like common sense to use your best pitchers first in extra innings. I can forgive using Wise and Shouse first, but to me it makes no sense to use Balfour unless you have to.
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And he had pitched in four games straight before he got a few days off.

 

And then he got 4 days off. Plus the 3 days off during the all star break. He hasn't been overworked.

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And then he got 4 days off. Plus the 3 days off during the all star break. He hasn't been overworked.

 

Agree to disagree then. I'd say pitching in half a teams games in the past week +, as being about as worked as a pitcher should be.

 

If you want to work him over that, I'd consider it somewhat unwise. Not to mention, we are about to play a whole bunch of games in a row here. Using him tonight would have made it two nights in a row (and may have prevented him from pitching tomorrow, when we might need him in a game where we are actually winning).

 

Yost has a formula that gets Cordero a reasonable amount of innings (over which would be overuse). I'm amazed at how many people fail to realize that you can't use the best RP all the time. You use your formula and you stick with that. I've pointed out a number of reasons why he shouldn't have pitched tonight, the fact that you disagree with one of my points doesn't make the entire argument invalid. Cordero has shown time and time again that the more innings he pitches, the more his "stuff" suffers. It's best for the Brewers when he is used as sparingly as possible.

 

And who knows if Cordero was even available tonight. Yost remarked earlier in the season, that he has his relievers give thumbs up/down/side depending on their availability. Perhaps Cordero didn't feel he could go today, and thus could only pitch if absolutely necessary. We just aren't privileged to this information. We can sit here second guessing Yost forever, but the truth of the matter is he did exactly what every other manager in the league would have done as well. And I'm willing to bet that there is a reason why those managers have their jobs, and we fans don't ( "Dusty Bakering" our better pitchers being a common mistake that we would make).

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If you really want to assure that you get to the next inning you would start with CoCo in the 9th then go to Turnbow, Wise and on down the bullpen. The problem is that no mater which way you do it you are going to have at least one more inning to cover after you score a run. Just think of the criticism if the Brewers got up by a run then had to trot out an inferior reliever and he blew the game. It actually seems like a place to bring in a long reliever since the offense was so poor you could reasonably expect to go many innings without scoring a run. I would say that if it had been a higher scoring game then Yost might have brought out CoCo since he might be able to count on his players to score a run sooner.

Fan is short for fanatic.

I blame Wang.

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