Blue Jays Bullpen Throws Away Game

I had prepared the following as a means of describing tonight’s game prior to the bottom of the ninth inning:

A night like tonight is exactly why fans of the more advanced stats suggest that earned run average tells an incomplete story. It’s doubtful you’ll ever see a better performance from a pitcher in which he gave up four runs than C.C. Sabathia’s tonight. In addition to retiring 16 batters in a row, the runs that were scored against him came off seeing eye singles and a Robinson Cano error.

Blue Jays fans would do well to remember tonight’s game the next time they feel cheated out of a win. That’s not to suggest that Toronto starter Ricky Romero didn’t pitch well, he put in a very solid performance in the Jays 4-3 victory. It’s just that Sabathia was an undeserving loser tonight.

Of course, the Yankees ended up scoring two runs in the ninth inning to win the game in a walk off, and Sabathia ended up the winning pitcher. It’s almost funny, because after all, baseball just has a way of evening when it comes to the luck that’s always at play. Tonight was a perfect example.

The Big Lebowski Quote Of The Game

Sometimes you eat the bear, and sometimes, well, he eats you.

Anatomy Of An 0 For 4 Outing From Jose Bautista

It’s rare to see Jose Bautista struggle at the plate, and there was no clear approach that C.C. Sabathia employed to confound the slugger tonight, which given Bautista’s reputation for video room studies, may be an approach in its own right.

In his first plate appearance, Bautista grounded out to third, taking a ball, then two strikes before swinging at a slider that was awfully similar to the one he saw with the pitch before.

In his second plate appearance, Bautista takes a strike, fouls one off and then swings and misses on a four seam fastball high and away.

In his third plate appearance, Bautista swings at the first pitch he sees, a sinker, which results in a fielder’s choice to end the inning.

In his fourth plate appearance, Bautista grounds out by fouling off the first pitch he sees, taking the second pitch for a ball and grounding out on a Sabathia changeup to first base on the third pitch.

All four of Bautista’s plate appearances ended with a different pitch from Sabathia. In order, Sabathia showed him:

  1. Four seamer;
  2. Change;
  3. Slider;
  4. Slider;
  5. Slider;
  6. Slider;
  7. Four seamer;
  8. Sinker;
  9. Four seamer;
  10. Four seamer;
  11. Change.

That’s what you call no discernible pattern.

Most Important Play(s) Of The Game

Curtis Granderson’s two out single in the ninth inning off Frank Francisco scored Chris Dickerson and increased his team’s chances of winning by 39.3%. From there

Biggest Opportunity Missed

Yunel Escobar’s sacrifice bunt with one out in the fourth inning moved John McDonald from first to second base, but failed to cash in Rajai Davis from third. With two out, Corey Patterson reached base on a walk to load the bases, but Jose Bautista hit into a fielder’s choice to end the inning.

The Aggravating Things That John Farrell Did

I actually quite liked tonight’s lineup. It made sense to me far more than yesterday’s placement of Yunel Escobar behind Jose Bautista.

I’m going to title a post tomorrow: Yunel Escobar is too good to sacrifice bunt. John McDonald bunting at the bottom of the lineup to push a run in is one thing. It’s quite another to make Escobar, the only player other than Bautista getting on base at a good rate, to drop down a bunt.

I’m not really certain why you’d bring in Casey Janssen to start the eighth inning with a left hander due up and a switch hitter following him. It seems to me you go with Marc Rzepzcynski to start the inning and be willing to bring in Janssen to face Rodriguez if Rzep looks at all shaky.

The Statistics You Won’t Believe

Coming into tonight’s game, Ricky Romero averaged 3.80 pitches per batter faced, while throwing 61.3% of his pitches for strikes. Tonight, he averaged 3.57 pitches per batter faced.

Last season Brett Gardner stole 47 bases and was only caught nine times. This year, he’s stolen eight bases and has already been caught six times.

In the last few days, a lot has been made over the idea of lineup protection. This is from Tom Tango in a piece for The Hardball Times from 2006 about that very subject.

Batting Stats For Good Hitters, In Likely IBB Situations (Scaled To 600 PA):

Status wOBA 1B 2B 3B HR NIBB HBP RBOE SO Other Out
Unprotected .380 83 32 3 16 91 10 6 108 251
Protected .376 83 31 3 18 83 10 6 104 262
Leading .382 92 31 3 21 72 7 7 97 270

While it’s more likely that an “unprotected” player will be intentional walked in intentional walk situations. He ends up doing better without “protection” than with it.

Coming into tonight, the Blue Jays had the most innings pitched by relievers in the American League. Their bullpen was third in the American League in xFIP.

Shutdowns/Meltdowns

By giving up two hits and allowing an inherited runner and one of his own to score, Marc Rzepczynski gets an official meltdown. As does Frank Francisco for blowing a save by getting a ground out, giving up a double to Jorge Posada, getting Derek Jeter out, giving up a single to Curtis Granderson, giving up a stolen base to Granderson and then a single to Mark Teixeira that scored Granderson to win the game.

Stray Observations Of The Game

On the pregame show for tonight’s game, Gregg Zaun claimed that right handers comprise 75%-90% of pitchers in baseball. Over the last decade the number is approximately 73%.

The eighth hitters for both lineups tonight were the fastest players on the field.

Watching Jose Bautista complain about balls and strikes with an umpire, it reminds me of The King Of Comedy, and how at the end of the movie, Rupert Pumpkin became a television host and fit in quite naturally as such. Bautista has only really been a star in baseball for less than a year, but he appears to be filling the role without any difficulty or effort. It’s just a natural fit.

Juan Rivera has been playing incredibly well defensively and offensively the last couple of games. While it’s still early, he’s forcing me to eat a slice of humble pie with his fielding ability at first base.

If I was a Yankees fan I’d be upset over the way that the fourth inning went down. Any one of those hits and the error could’ve ended up bouncing very differently.

There was a lot of praise on the radio broadcast for Ricky Romero’s quickness to the plate with a runner on base. In the bottom of the fifth, that quickness forced Curtis Granderson to take off for second base before Romero had begun his windup. Romero was prepared for this and caught him trying to steal.

Anyone calling for Jayson Nix to play third base over John McDonald is mistaken. If you think that there’s a big difference between Nix’s offensive contribution and McDonald’s you’re wrong. And if you think that there isn’t a a big difference between McDonald’s defensive contribution and Nix’s, well, god help you.

I’d like to say that you can’t blame Frank Francisco because he didn’t have a Spring Training this year, but he’s made fifteen appearances at the MLB level now and pitched thirteen innings. If he’s not ready yet, he shouldn’t have finished his rehab stint in early April.

It’s easy to blame the bullpen for this loss, and deservedly so, but fans would do well to remember that the team’s relief corps have worked harder than almost any other in the Majors and done so with a lot of success.

Comments (38)

  1. “If he’s not ready yet, he shouldn’t have finished his rehab stint in early April.”

    Agree with that… if hes not ready, he shouldn’t be at the Major League level. If he’s pitching at the Major League level, any and all criticism of his performance is fair game.

  2. If you think that there’s a big difference between Nix’s offensive contribution and McDonald’s you’re wrong. And if you think that there isn’t a a big difference between McDonald’s defensive contribution and Nix’s, well, god help you. – Magic!

    On that note, and I’d hate to state the obvious, but I still think we’ll see Lawrie sooner rather than later.

  3. CC Sabathia deserves the credit, I think, or the Jays offense deserves the blame for not pushing across another er… baserunner. The whole 8th and 9th was a product of not being perfect after the other guy pretty much was. On the bright side, the Yankees, the most homer happy team in the majors, haven’t hit that many these last couple of games.

  4. Farrell blew the game in the 8th

    and if bautista keeps the ball in front of him on posadas hit, thats a single and jeters grounder ends the game.

  5. My Farrell criticisms for the game:

    #1. Why is Farrell pulling Romero at 100 pitches?
    #2. Why is Farrell pulling Janssen after letting him face two lefties and getting two outs in the 8th in a three run lead? Over-managing at its finest.
    #3. Why is Farrell not letting Rzep pitch in the 9th to Gardner to start the inning? Slave to the save managing at its finest.
    #4. Why is Farrell allowing Francisco to throw a pitch to Teix at 3-1 in the 9th? Just walk him and re-start the count with ARod.

  6. I don’t understand the thinking behind bringing Janssen into the game to face Granderson and Tex. Wouldn’t RZep be the better choice there, not against Cano? Maybe fearsome of Granderson’s new found power vs. lefties?

  7. “I’d like to say that you can’t blame Frank Francisco because he didn’t have a Spring Training this year, but he’s made fifteen appearances at the MLB level now and pitched thirteen innings. If he’s not ready yet, he shouldn’t have finished his rehab stint in early April.”
    I don’t always agree with you, but amen for that one.

  8. I think the criticisms of Farrell’s lineup machinations are way overblown, but his handling of the bullpen is questionable. Most of his relievers are doing very well, save for the two guys who are most thought of as saves-compilers. If ever there was a team ripe for a bullpen-by-committee, this is it. No true closer, a bunch of good pitchers who shouldn’t be pigeon-holed into a “role” and Octavio Dotel. Just play the damn odds and use the available arm best equipped to get outs in a given situation.

  9. And let me add to your list Fullmer_Fan:

    #5: Why in the [Getting Blanked] is Farrell bringing 2Frank back on 0 days rest when he has his worst:

    a) BA against (.268)
    b) OBP against (.354)
    c) SLG against (.470)
    d) (Captain Obvious) OPS against (.824)
    e) highest BABIP against (.320)
    f) worst WHIP (1.55)
    and g) worst ERA (6.70)

    under these circumstances. Granted we’re only talking about 209 PA over 6+ years entering tonight’s game and that is a small sample size. Nonetheless, there’s a trend here…And that trend says you don’t use 2Frank on back to back days. Ever. Period. Ugh. Why John? Why?

  10. Do any teams ever actually employ bullpen by committee?
    Every manager always feeds the public the same bullshit about each guy in the pen NEEDS a defined role and that a big part of closing ball games is the mental edge, which only a closer can bring.

  11. Ridiculous comments from Buck and Pat: Before Posada was called on to pinch hit, there was a shot of Joe Girardi talking to one of the Yankees coaching staff. With nobody on base, Buck claimed that they discussing whether or not they wanted to bunt the runner in, hit and run, and how they were going to manufacture a run. Then Posada got called up and hit a double. I’m sure the Yankees were pre-planning their small ball late in a game down by three runs with nobody on base.

  12. “I don’t understand the thinking behind bringing Janssen into the game to face Granderson and Tex. Wouldn’t RZep be the better choice there, not against Cano? Maybe fearsome of Granderson’s new found power vs. lefties?”

    Probably fearsome of Granderson vs. lefties. I assumed he was saving Rzep for Cano and Gardner. The fact that he pulled him before Gardner, though, kind of hurts the thinking behind the “going to Janssen first” strategy, though.

  13. Tom,
    Its pretty apparent at this point Farrell does not look at statistics.

  14. And yeah, Tom Jackson, that makes it even more questionable. Francisco has been struggling with his command in nearly every outing this season, though, he’s not really the best option at any time.

  15. I have come to the conclusion that farrell never looks at stats. he just makes moves based on gut feel. every move he makes has no stats to back it up. whether it’s stealing in front of jose or dotel in facing lefties, it makes no sense.

  16. I can’t wait till be play baltimore. both gregg and FF will blow saves in the same game. just watch.

  17. I always thought the biggest problem with Cito Gaston was his decisions could only cost you a victory and never lead to one.
    Well, 2 months into Farrell’s first year, and its evident we are stuck with the same shit. The decisions Farrell has made this year have no doubt cost us a win or two, and cant recall anything he did to help the Jays win.

  18. fuck it, fire Farrell! lets burn this place down

  19. It is pretty clear it is Parkes’ fault the Jays lost this game. Parkes, how could you write a post about the Jays winning before the game was over!

  20. WANTED–PITCHER THAT CAN RETIRE 3 BATTERS IN THE NINTH INNING.
    Please apply Rogers Center anytime of day or night. URGENT!!!!!!!!!!

  21. jays have the worst record in all of baseball during the day 6-14 vs the yankees who have the best record in all of baseball during the day 10-3. lovely just lovely

  22. Whoever says Farrell doesn’t base decisions on statistics needs to read or listen to his postgame comments. He usually tells you why he made the moves and they are usually backed up by numbers from him.

  23. @Bryan unfortunately the numbers he uses are usually complete bullshit i.e. Escobar’s track record against Colon to justify him hitting 4th.
    Anyone that still employs Dotel against lefties and bats your best OBP guy behind Babe Ruth 2.0 does not effectively use stats.
    I can imagine consultant Tom Tango watch these games and counting his money.
    On a side note walk-offs always suck but it happens occasionally. FF hasn’t looked great this year but he’s been decent and the rest of the bullpen has done a pretty good job. Bullpens will blow games. Hopefully they can get the win today.

  24. I also feel like I should justify my post with some numbers. A full two-thirds of people I polled about my post agree with me.
    My wife is on the fence but the cat agrees with me.
    #statscanproveanything

  25. Dave, I don’t think anyone thinks this never happens. I think most people would say about the 8th that “it happens” because Rzep has been good. The problems have been with Francisco.And can I go one farther on the Gardner comment? If Rzep gets Gardner, he can face Posada who is yet to have a hit against a lefty. Instead FF gives up a double to Posada (who has not been very good this year). And there’s no fairness in saying if Bautista cuts the ball, because if he doesn’t slide the ball is by him for sure.

    My wife suggested trying Janssen in the 9th. Right now, I have no problem with that. Bring me Frasor even.

  26. “I don’t understand the thinking behind bringing Janssen into the game to face Granderson and Tex. Wouldn’t RZep be the better choice there, not against Cano? Maybe fearsome of Granderson’s new found power vs. lefties?”

    Janssen actually has a better track record (so far this year at least) vs lefties than Rzep.

    Jansen holds lefties to a .163 BAA/.427OPS vs Rzep’s .184/.516. Granted, those are both pretty good numbers, but I was surprised when Janssen was brought in vs Granderson, but pulled vs Cano.

  27. A couple things i’ve noticed over the past few games: 1) Very pleasantly surprised how well Rivera has played at 1B. He got alot of shit at beginning of year (deservedly so) cause of his lack of effort and overall shitiness. Time to give him some credit at not only playing above average 1B but as well seemingly performing better at the plate.
    2) I mentioned this a couple of weeks ago on twitter, but why not make Frasor the closer for now. He’s pitched very well this year and neither Rauch or FF are cutting it as of late. At this point, I would’ve felt more comfortable having Frasor come out for the 9th yesterday instead of FF.

  28. “#4. Why is Farrell allowing Francisco to throw a pitch to Teix at 3-1 in the 9th? Just walk him and re-start the count with ARod.”

    To be fair, an experienced, real 1B probably makes that play to end the inning.

  29. Last night’s loss can be blamed on Farrell blowing through relievers in a 7-3 game the night before. He really needs to learn to stick with one guy longer than 5 fucking pitches.

  30. Anyone checked out today’s starting lineup? Just when I thought Farrell wouldn’t surprise me.

    http://twitter.com/#!/gregorMLB/status/73397988185210880

  31. I am also pleasantly surprised with the play of Rivera, and that ball was LACED sorry.
    Also wanted to pose the question, if by chance we are still within sniffing distance in late July-August should we make a move to get a genuine shutdown man ? If said superstar shutdown man was here already is it not possible that we may have an extra 3-5 wins? saves if you will? or will it cost us too much and not fit in the PLAN ?

  32. Screw the LOOGY last night. Cano rips lefties regardless of which side he bats. There was no need to move to Rzep.

  33. Based on the number of maniacs lighting up the FAN switchboard last night, it sounds like some fans want the Jays to out and spend a wackload of money to buy a closer. Let’s look at this franchise’s history with free agent closers shall we?

    Randy Moffitt 1983
    Dennis Lamp 1984
    Bill Caudill 1985
    Randy Myers 1998
    B.J. Ryan 2006
    Kevin Gregg 2010
    Frank Francisco 2011

    To paraphrase “Made In Canada”: “Those worked out rather well”. Granted not all of them were big money signings, but Lamp, Caudill, Myers, and Ryan were given long term deals.

    Meanwhile during the nine years and five division titles from 1985 through 1993, the Jays used a couple of guys that Texas (Henke) and Atlanta (Ward) didn’t want anymore, or at least didn’t seem to want. They picked up Henke as compensation for Cliff freakin’ Johnson, who re-joined the Jays in August for Matt Williams (the pitcher) who pitched 25.0 MLB innings after that and Jeff Mays and Greg Ferlenda who never reached the big leagues. Ward was grabbed in return for dour Doyle Alexander. Farm product Mike Timlin did a very good job in 1996, but not so much after that. Farm product Billy Koch was OK from 1999-2001. Jason Frasor’s been good here and there and originally the price looked like a steal (Jayson Werth). Now, not so much. Jeremy Accardo filled in beautifully in 2007 when Ryan went down with his (basically) career ending injury, and he came over for Shea “This Ship Is Sinking – I’m going to build my own Ark like Noah and rescue all the animals” Hillenbrand and Vinnie Chulk. After that, not so much.

    Look at recent World Series champions:

    2010 – Brian Wilson (drafted and developed)
    2009 – Mariano Rivera (drafted, developed and re-signed over and over)
    2008 – Brad Lidge (trade with Houston)
    2007 – Jonathan Papeldouche (drafted and developed)
    2006 – Jason Isringhausen (big money free agent who got hurt at the most important time)/Adam Wainwright (trade with Atlanta)
    2005 – Dustin Hermanson (free agent who got hurt late in the season)/Bobby Jenks (trade with Anaheim)

    and so on and so on. Point being the Jays next lock down closer is out there, just not where the screaming hordes might think he is.

  34. That ran rather long. Sorry. Also Jenks was picked up on waivers by the White Sox from Anaheim for nothing but the price of a waiver claim. Nice.

  35. Agreed.

    Closer is such an inconsistent position. The career closer that shuts down the opposition for years on end a la Rivera, Lee Smith or Thigpen is very rare.

    Frasor, Rzep and Janssen have all done a great job this year. Giving any of them a shot at closing would be just fine with me. If that doesn’t work out, give a young arm a shot at the job.

    Save your free agent dollars for big hitters that play every day and pitchers that throw more than 70 innings a year.

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