Small Things; Gabe Kapler's Plate Appearance, Troy Percival Over Brian Shouse, Etc.

This is going to last in your memory banks for all of a day, but it was a pretty brilliant plate appearance at the time. I'm talking about Koji Uehara versus Gabe Kapler in the seventh inning.

 

Uehara threw a first pitch strike (shocker) a little to the left of the plate, then threw a pitch a good six-to-eight inches outside, just to see if Kapler would bite. His next pitch served much of the same purpose, only this was inside and Kapler actually did bite, swinging through it and putting himself down 1-2 instead of 2-1. Pitch four was on the inside corner and fouled off, and pitch five was remarkably similar to pitch one in placement, and again fouled off. Pitch six was another foul, as were pitches seven (right down the gut) and eight (low, but still above the knees). Kapler worked the count full before popping out on pitch number 10, which was well above the strike zone, go figure. Uehara showed no prejudice in working inside and outside, high and low, and that's really how he pitched all day. Just check his strike percentage by inning:

1 80%

2 80%

3 100%

4 81.82%

5 81.82%

6 65%

7 84.21%

I profess that I've never seen an inning of Nippon League ball, but if I didn't know any better, I would say throwing a ball is a highly frowned upon practice. Then again, this league also produced Kei Igawa, so maybe not. Oddly enough, when I checked Uehara's Zone% on FanGraphs, he's down the page some. James Shields is higher, as is Roy Halladay, Johan Santana, Sidney Ponson, hey wait...the thing that separates Uehara is his 28.1% O-Swing%. Nearly one-third of Uehara's "balls" are tempting enough for hitters to actually chase after. That's better than Felix Hernandez, Yovani Gallardo, and Josh Johnson. For a right-hander with velocity that tops out just shy of 88 miles per hour, that's pretty impressive.

Some other thoughts:

The bullpen management in the 9th inning was a wee bit confusing. Adam Jones lead off with a double, which then lead to Brian Shouse coming in to face lefties Nick Markakis and Aubrey Huff. Both grounded out (again, shocker) which left a runner on third, two outs, a three-run lead on the scoreboard, and a right-handed hitting Melvin Mora coming to the plate. After Mora, Luke Scott was due. With the exception of 2008, Mora has hit lefties and righties about equally well:

2008 0.232 platoon advantage

2007 0.005 platoon advantage

2006 0.029 platoon advantage

2008 and 2007 are the extremes, but even if you assume he's going to hit just like 2008 against Shouse and just like 2008 against Percival, the difference for one plate appearance is 0.07 runs. That's it. In a three-run game, with another lefty on deck in Luke Scott who has platoon advantages of 0.108, 0.006, and 0.354 the past three seasons. So basically, over 0.07 runs in a three-run game Maddon decided to go with Percival and hope he could retire Mora, otherwise you bring up Scott who would have a relatively higher advantage against Percival than Mora would Shouse.

In the end the choice is rendered irrelevant, but this is exactly what I mean when I talk about specialization in bullpens. Maddon usually doesn't play strict to the platoon splits, but today he did which is ridiculously odd seeing as how he had Shouse stay in versus a lot more dangerous hitter than Mora just a few days ago in a far more strenuous situation.  Plus, it's not like Baltimore had a viable pinch hitter anyways.

I understand why Maddon went with Percival, but I'm not sure it was necessary.

I may start a collection where each time Evan Longoria does something ridiculous, I add a penny. That seems cheap, but after the next eight years, I'm guessing the amount could match his 550k salary this season. Seriously, thank your deity of choice for Andrew Friedman's lack of a conscious.

Matt Garza needs not of your large crowds.

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