Saturday, July 4, 2009

Closers are Stupid

No, not the actual closer himself, but the way he is used. This is not news, this is a rant.

Today, in the game ongoing between the Jays and the Yanks, there was a tie ball game going into the bottom of the ninth. Cito Gaston's best reliever - his closer - this year has been Jason Frasor with Scott Downs injured. Cito elects to bring in Jeremy Accardo, ex-closer extrodinaire. Accardo is a good pitcher, but this strategy boggles my mind. Traditional wisdom has the home team using their closer for the top of the ninth with the away team conserving their closer for a save situation. The home team uses their closer because there exists no plausible save situation for him.

This bothers me. Why does the away team not use their closer for the bottom of the ninth? So that he can stay around to pick up a potential save? That's what traditional wisdom tells us, and if you have half a brain you should know why that's a huge fallacy. If the Jays score a run on the top of one of the extra innings, Jason Frasor comes out trying to conserve the win. If he gives up a run, there's a tie ball game. If he gives up none, there's a win. Okay, different situation. Suppose Frasor comes in the bottom of the ninth. If he gives up a run, the Jays lose. If he does not, there's a tie game. What's higher leverage, a situation where he can give up one run, or a situation where he can give up none?

Okay, you disagree and say that it's better to have a situation where he locks down a win as opposed to preventing a loss. But the former situation assumes that all the other (worse) relievers throw scoreless innings ahead of him.

Am I wrong in this? Can someone give me a reasonable argument for conserving your best reliever in an away game in extras?

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