Last June, the Milwaukee Brewers were hoodwinked by Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon. In the eighth inning of a game which Tampa was leading 8-1, Maddon sent reserve outfielder Sam Fuld (who had pinch-hit for the pitcher) to the mound to warm-up. This was obviously a stall tactic to get a reliever warmed up and Maddon had no intention of allowing him to face a batter.
After Fuld completed his warm-up tosses Maddon went to the mound to replace him. Crew Chief Jerry Layne allowed the pitching change, and after the game explained that Home Plate Umpire Bob Davidson said that Fuld had told him that he was to sore to pitch. Over the offseason the rules committee amended rule 3.05 (b) which stated:
If the pitcher is replaced, the substitute pitcher shall pitch to the batter then at bat, or any substitute batter, until such batter is put out or reaches first base, or until the offensive team is put out, unless the substitute pitcher sustains injury or illness which, in the umpire-in-chief’s judgment, incapacitates him for further play as a pitcher.
The amended rule includes the following addition:
“prohibit a manager from sending his current pitcher out to warm up with no intention of having him pitch because a relief pitcher is not ready to enter the game.”
This would prevent Maddon (or any other manager) from pulling that same stunt again in the fure.
This takes us to the eighth inning of Wednesday afternoon’s game. The Royals were leading 6-3 and had right-handed reliever Aaron Crow on the mound. Shelley Duncan was due up for the Indians. When Manny Acta sent in the left-handed hitting Lonnie Chisenhall to pinch hit for Duncan, the door was opened for Ned Yost to bring in lefty reliever Jose Mijares.
Was Manny Acta aware that Ned Yost could bring Mijares in to the game if a pinch-hitter was announced? If so, did he feel that Chisenhall versus Mijares was a better matchup than Duncan versus Crow? What do the numbers suggest?
In his career Aaron Crow has held right handed hitters to a .541 OPS (.191/.293/.249) with a K/BB ratio of 2.16 while left handed batters have posted an OPS of .803 (.261/.340/.436) with a K/BB ratio of 1.94. Shelley Duncan is hitting just .172 (10-for-58) against right-handed pitching this year, and his career triple-slash against same-handed hurlers is .218/.297/.420.
Meanwhile, Jose Mijares has held left-handed hitters to a .594 OPS (.211/.275/.319) with a K/BB ratio of 3.22 while right handed batters have posted an OPS of .793 (.276/.356/.438) with a K/BB ratio of 1.40. Although Lonnie Chisenhall has struggled against lefties throughout his minor league career, he has a big league OPS of .839 (.245/.273/.566) against southpaws, albeit in only 55 plate appearances.
With the Indians down by three and Mijares warming up in the bullpen, it would have made much more sense for Acta to have stayed Duncan against Crow—a move that would have kept Chisenhall’s potent bat available in the event that the Indians rallied against a right-handed pitcher later in the game. As it turned out, the Indians loaded the bases with one out against righty closer Jonathan Broxton and could have used Chisenhall as a pinch hitter for Jose Lopez, who grounded into a double play to end the game.