In the road portion of the series Citrus Series: Now Even Citrusier! Kevin Cash mostly managed like a conventional National League manager. He pinch hit for his pitcher when appropriate—which was often dictated by pitching changes instead of matchups—and made the occasional double switch. Just a couple weird things:
First inning - Infield in
Ian touched on this in his recap of the game, and I’m going to again, because it really was a weird moment. With Dee Gordon on third, the Rays played the infield back for the entirety of the Martin Prado at bat (which ended in a pop out) and most of the Christian Yelich at bat. Then, when the count got to two strikes, they pulled the infield in.
It’s odd on couple levels. First, Jake Odorizzi isn’t a ground-ball guy to begin with. Second, with two strikes, you’d think he’d be looking to elevate the fastball for the punchout, which makes a grounder less likely. And that’s in fact what Odorizzi did. Of the five two-strike pitches he threw, four were fastballs and only one was a splitter.
In the end, it didn’t matter. Yelich hit a sac fly to left to score Gordon. But it was still weird.
Not Pinch Hitting for Weeks
In the seventh inning, with the game very much in doubt, Cash started to go all-in with his bench. He pinch hit Logan Morrison for Danny Farquhar (very conventional), and then pinch hit Kevin Kiermaier for Peter Bourjos (still pretty conventional). Those moves resulted in a flyout and walk, respectively, and the walk at least helped set up the only run of the inning.
But later on in the inning, with the bases loaded and two outs, Don Mattingly called on Brad Ziegler to face Rickie Weeks Jr. It was a perfect chance to pinch hit again with Shane Peterson. Sure, your bench is going to be really thin the rest of the way, especially if Longo truly isn’t available. But it’s an aggressive play that could have had a big payoff, and as we’ve mentioned numerous times, Weeks has been awful against righties. And frankly, pitchers don’t get more right-handed than the side-winding Brad Ziegler. Anyone who didn’t see the inevitable the strikeout coming was willfully blind.
Verdict: Missed Opportunity.
May 2: Rays 3, Marlins 1
Ordinarily, we’d gripe about a lineup like this one. I mean, four lefties, followed by five righties? Who does that?
But we cut Cash some slack here for two reason. First, he’s without Longo again. Second, there’s no DH in Miami. So he’s making the best of things.
And most importantly: the Marlins’ lefty situation in the pen is almost as bad as the Rays’. So the downside of bunching up your left-handed hitters is mitigated, and it’s probably worth getting the few good hitters you can muster into the top of the lineup.
And then the Citrus Series came to its rightful home in the Trop. Would the Rays be able finish off Miami and hang a “2017 Citrus Series Champions” banner for Marcel Ozuna to smack a homer into during some future, SuperCitrusSeries?
Let’s find out!
May 3: Marlins 10, Rays 6
Dat Lineup - Part 2
Love TBex in the leadoff spot against a lefty. Almost made us forget KK was in the two-hole.
Verdict: So close.
Is it normal to let a reliever give up seven hits in a row? I’m just asking. For a friend.
Look, the truth is that Pruitt didn’t pitch that badly. It’s just that—bless his heart, Austin loves to get his regressing done all at once. So maybe have a lil’ quicker hook when it looks like things are blowing up? Or a hook at all? Somebody warming up? Anybody? Bueller?
I understand the idea of saving the pen in a game that we are losing. But . . . well, this wasn’t one of those games. At least, it wasn’t for the first four or five hitters Pruitt faced. A lot of people might have missed this (Kevin Cash apparently did), but we were winning before we were losing.
This is definitely one that got away. It’s not every day you see a middle/long reliever who enters with a two run lead get tagged with -.64 WPA.
Verdict: Asleep at the switch
Somebody needs to tell Cash that naps are for after the game.
With the Rays down five in the eighth, Brad Miller led off with a walk. The lineup due to face righty David Phelps—who has pretty normal looking lefty/righty splits over his career—is Weeks, Daniel Robertson, and Jesus Sucre. On the bench are the lefty bats of Logan Morrison, Colby Rasmus, and Corey Dickerson.
And nary a pinch hitter was used.
Leaving in Robertson at least makes sense. You don’t want to lose the DH, nor do you want Longo to have to play the field. So okay, that one is fine. But the others? Why the heck not?
Sure, we’re down 10-5. But come on. What does it cost you to try?
Verdict: Raise the white flag
May 4: Rays 5, Marlins 1
Matt Andriese in the 7th
I might just have to get over my (formerly justifiable) fear of Matty Ace the third time through the order.
For his career, his TTO wOBA goes like this: .277/.341/.377. That’s actually pretty standard. But his relatively short career line is helped out by what he’s done this year: .349/.307 /.295.
Huh. Well, look at that.
So, does this mean that Matt Andriese has discovered something, and should now be treated as a dominant ace?
No, of course not. It’s a tiny sample, and one that is hugely influence by survivor bias. In other words, he didn’t face many batters a third time during his four-inning start against Toronto (for instance), because he was awful, but he faced lots of them last night when he was good.
And with a five run lead, it’s a good, safe time to extend your starter. Especially when your pen is warm and ready in case things get dicey.
And if Matty has figured something out? We’ll know soon enough. No need to jump to conclusions. Just enjoy the good starts when they come.
Verdict: Good job
So that’s it for the Citrus Series. Now, bring on that Toronto bad blood.