Jim & Bob's Palatial Baseball Blog

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Why Bother with Your Best Pitcher?

A commenter at Hire Jim Essian posits this question about Lou Piniella's bullpen management in pivotal Game One of the 2008 season:

Why did Lou put in Wood in a non-save situation?

Well, jiminy jillikers -- why would Piniella run Wood out there in the top of the ninth of a 0-0 game? It's not like it was a key moment of the game or anything!

This kind of thinking drives me nuts. Jim and I have talked about this before, but the gist is this -- closers should only be used for save situations, preferably only in the ninth inning (maybe the eighth, but only if someone like Albert Pujols is up with the tying run on base).

In this situation, the comment is doubly ridiculous. The game was a scoreless tie heading into the top of the ninth -- meaning there could be no save situation for Kerry Wood to come in to close.

Does that mean that Wood should not have come in? If so, then who pitches the ninth?

Theoretically (and practically, if you take into account Wood's performance at the end of last year), Wood is one of our best relief pitchers -- why not use him in that key situation. Marmol had already been used, so who else? Cub Fan is already all over Howry -- imagine the whining if Howry came in to start the ninth...

So who else should Lou have sent in? Pignatiello? Wuertz? Lieber?

If Wood's going to be the hammer out of the 'pen, it makes sense to use him in that situation. It didn't work out this time, but it's not because Lou used the closer in a non-save situation. Give the Brewers some props, folks...

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