Wednesday, April 11, 2012

On Tigers manager Jim Leyland's handling of his pitching staff today

Did Jim Leyland make the right decision today by leaving Justin Verlander in the game to start the ninth inning? No. The results say it all. Verlander wasn't able to hold the lead. The Tigers lost 4-2 to Tampa Bay.
Same with opening day, when Leyland pulled Verlander for Jose Valverde, and the Tigers let go of a 2-0 lead - and were fortunate to win in the bottom half of the ninth.
Two decisions. Two decisions that didn't prove to be correct by Leyland.
But how much criticism should Leyland be subjected for them? Obviously some, but each instance was the ultimate, "damned if you do, and don't if you don't" circumstance.
It would be disingenuous of me to second-guess Leyland on either decision because I would have done the same in each situation. Verlander had thrown 105 pitches on opening day. It was enough. Today, I would have left Verlander in to start the ninth. His pitch count was low enough and he was in total and complete control of the Rays' hitters to that point. The only thing I would have done differently is pull him out of the game sooner once Tampa Bay started rallying. But it's understandable why Leyland left him in. Verlander is the best pitcher in baseball, and his chances of succeeding with runners on base in that situation were at least equal to those of anyone in the bullpen, including Valverde. Also, Daniel Schlereth does not command the baseball well enough to pitch in game-deciding circumstance. Anybody surprised by that walk?
It should be understood that baseball is ultimate bottom line business. It didn't work. Rationale thinking about decisions that didn't work don't win games. The Tigers blew it today, and it was the collective effort of their pitching staff, which it can't be said was properly handled by the manager.
He is paid to be right - and he wasn't.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Leyland just plain blew it, it's not the first time and won't be the last.

It's a tough decision but come on, you've got fresh arms.

I sometimes can't understand Leyland, he seems to go on gut instinct on these things, but this one didn't make sense.

5:49 PM 
Anonymous woody said...

respectfully disagree. manager's job is use his players in a way that increases the team's likelihood of success. the outcome is determined by how well the players execute. manager cannot assume all responsibility for success or failure on the field...they often unfairly assume more than their share.

some managers will intentionally invite the heat of public criticism to redirect it from a player's failure, if they think it's in the best interest of the team.

8:23 PM 
Blogger Fred Brill said...

Well, Book, I if you want to be "by the book" (I made that up) - then yeah - but you're really reaching here. I think the posture you're more likely presenting to us here is more to the affect of noticing Leyland's instincts didn't fire quite right in two decisions of note in four games - both regarding cy young / mvp JV.

But the "he's paid to be right" attitude? Where the hell's that coming from? That ain't you.

12:43 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

I agree, Fred. Leyland manages by feel rather than the book. Sometimes it backfires on him, but I'd rather have a by feel than by book manager.

2:33 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Guys, we are all right. Sometimes "feel" works, sometimes not.

But come on. I'll take a manager who has 'feel' and also command of the stats or 'by the book'. It takes some expert observation.

When Big V comes out in the 9th and starts throwing balls into the dirt, I'm out there in a heartbeat.

After all, there is a reason a top-notch manager gets paid a couple million a year.

4:48 PM 

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