Let’s talk a little bit more about yesterday:
First, I’d like to praise Gibby’s use of his bullpen. He gets a lot of (often deserved) grief for the way he uses his pen. Yesterday, I thought, he did a great job.
- First, he took Marco Estrada out of the game, after 6 innings and 89 pitches. As fans, we often think a starter ‘should go 100 pitches’. In this case, first start of the year, and it was the end of the inning. Nice time to remove him. If he started the next inning, odds are he would have been pulled sometime during it.
- Joe Biagini started the 7th inning, always nice for a reliever. After a quick 7th, he started the 8th, got 2 outs and then gave up a single.
- With 2 outs and lefty slugger Chris Davis coming up, Gibby brought in J.P. Howell. He brought in the LOOGY to face the lefty. Life is good. And, bonus, Biagini left the game feeling good about things, when, if he had given up a hit to Davis, he wouldn’t have.
- JP got his out (well, a hard hit ball slicing to left, but right to Carrera, but it was an out).
- Joe Smith came in for the 9th, got through the inning quick (helped by a great play by Jose Bautista, diving catch and throw to first for a double play. Who had Bautista for this season’s first great play from the outfield this year?). He went out there to start the 10th. I think he would usually be a 1-inning pitcher, but, with us going into extras, you don’t want to burn through your pitchers too quick).
- With 2 out and none on, Gibby brought Aaron Loup in to pitch to lefty Seth Smith. This one I wasn’t thrilled with. I don’t see Smith as a power hitter and I thought we could save Loup for Davis later, but OK. He did get the weak ground ball we wanted, unfortunately it found a hole.
- Gibby brought Grilli in and he finished the inning. And got the first two outs of the 11th until....well you know.
- If the game had continued, we had Ryan Tepera and Dominic Leone left in the pen, two pitchers who could go multiple innings and, if one of them had to go 3 or 4 innings, both have options, they could be sent down to get a fresh arm (not as big a deal with today being an off-day.
Anyway, I think Gibby should take a bow for doing a good job with the pen, even if it didn’t work out.
On the flip side......Darwin Barney pinch hitting for Ezequiel Carerra (to lead off the 9th, against Zach Britton) was interesting.
First, I doubt Barney had much more of a chance of reaching base off Britton than Ezequiel. Plus, if one of them were to reach, I’d rather it be Carerra. I am a fan of trying to get guys into the first game of the season, but I don’t really see the upside there.
On the other hand, it would have been a good spot to put in the redundant Melvin Upton. Sometimes redundant is OK, if the player that makes him redundant is already in the lineup and you could use a pinch-hitter.
It probably wouldn’t have made a difference (though the two batters following Darwin’s strikeout each singled), but Darwin Barney being out first RH pinch hitting choice seems less than optimal.
Upton might be redundant but Goins is as well.
I’ve read a bunch about how Estrada was throwing a little harder yesterday, but perhaps that’s not true. Dave Cameron tells us that the pitch speed is being measured differently than in the past. 70 of 97 pitchers who pitched last year, and threw in the first two days of this season saw increases measured speed of their fastball.
This year, however, with Statcast officially replacing PITCHF/x in the big leagues, the data being pulled publicly is now from the Trackman radar. While PITCHF/x velocity numbers were reported at a defined point along each pitch’s trajectory — usually at the 55 foot mark — so that velocity didn’t have to be calculated at every x/y point along the pitches path, Statcast outputs the highest velocity that Trackman records along the flight of the pitch, which due to physics, is going to be immediately after the ball leaves the pitcher’s hand.
So maybe Marco wasn’t throwing harder (or at least as much harder as we were lead to believe). Go read Cameron’s post.
This is worth watching again. Statcast says Bautista’s catch was a 21% catch. I’m curious about the ball that went over Pillar’s head. I wonder how often that would get caught?