Managing pens can be more difficult than you think


Fortunately, Bob Melvin handled the pen well last night as Jake Diekman, Lou Trivino and Sergio Romo were all efficient. Of course, all those times one of the three imploded, we should have known better. Such is the life of a manager with a multitude of faltering relievers, trying to figure out how to take advantage of a group that has talent but no reliability.

This is where the rubber meets the road with the fans. Fans understand that every reliever is a roll of the dice, capable of getting the job done and totally unsecured to do it. What many fans want is for the manager to try a reliever, but be ready to quickly pivot to someone else when that reliever struggles.

And that’s where the complexity of running a reliever pen lies, because managers can’t really do what the fans want. Most fans aren’t aware of the warm-up part of pitching, but in all the years I’ve covered baseball I’ve never found a manager, pitching coach, pitcher. , who was indifferent to the “get up and sit down” routine. . The warm-up is not reflected in the number of pitches, nor in appearances, but it is a very real thing.

Most managers use a rule of thumb that if a pitcher warms up a second time he enters the game and in general a manager tries not to raise a reliever if he does not intend to. put it on the line. However, last week’s urgency offered a rare exception that many fans probably didn’t even notice.

In Sean Manaea’s last start, a game where the A’s led the Royals 12-5 and hung on to win 12-10, the box score showed Manaea winning with 5 innings, with Lou Trivino pitching 2 innings. complete, Jake Diekman getting 2 outs, and Andrew Chafin winning the stop by throwing the IP 1.1 final.

In fact, allowing 3 runs in the fourth set, Manaea struggled to the point that Bob Melvin felt the need to get Deolis Guerra up into the pen just in case. Despite being a “batsman”, Manaea survived the fourth and even finished the fifth. Then in the 9th inning, Chafin was on the verge of losing the lead and possibly even losing the game, as the Royals scored once and loaded the goals. left with few options, a desperate Melvin relieved Guerra again and Chafin hadn’t removed left-handed Ryan O’Hearn stick most likely Guerra was coming. But Chafin pulled O’Hearn out, and Guerra pitched twice into the pen but never pitched.

This event, where a reliever is only about to sit down and not enter, not once but twice, is rare because it is totally unbearable. And yet, if the fans were allowed to deal with both ends, the relievers would do it constantly. The idea that every time Romo throws a flat slider you get another relief is as ludicrous as it sounds, and is pretty much a staple of gaming threads.

The reality is that once you select a reliever, the moment you observe more than an ordinary wrestling level, and then the moment you give a reliever a chance to warm up and prepare, you watch. usually 5 batters – which means the reliever you’ve selected will have the opportunity to make a big impact on the inning whether we like it or not.

Of course, it becomes more important when every reliever you have is able to wrestle, able to implode, was not a guy you were sure to start with. And sadly, a bunch of these guys pretty much describe the only choices Melvin has every day.

But it’s not as simple as, “Try this guy out, but get someone else to get ready before it’s too late!” You describe a philosophy that would backfire physically and mentally almost immediately, as pitchers don’t perform well that way and would get hurt anyway. It is good for a reliever to warm up, but not really to enter, 10% of the time. But that can’t sound like a 50/50 proposition, with the famous Justin Case constantly letting go. And that’s why innings play out the way they so often do for As’s with an unreliable, clearly struggling reliever allowed to face another hitter or two – when you and I can see, “So why Melvin? can’t he? », The wreckage of the train which seems to come.

This is not a bad management of the bullpen, it is the management of a bad bullpen. Sometimes you end up dancing with the girl you brought for longer than you would like, but at least not all of the girls are on the IL. Or something like that.

A’s-Angels tonight at 6:00 p.m.! The enclosure promises to be a factor. Stay tuned…

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