Thursday, October 2, 2008

One Thought About Last Night

The one thing that struck me as weird about last night's victory for the Dodgers over the Cubs was Joe Torre's use of the bullpen. Or should I say potential use. I understand pulling Lowe after 6 innings, because while he was pitching pretty well, he was by no means dominant, and he was at 94 pitches. Normally I'd throw him out there for the next inning, and if he breezes good, if he struggles pull him- but this move had more to do with game 4 than with how he was doing tonight. Bringing in Cory Wade was a good move, and Wade looked good getting his feet wet with a 2 run cushion.

This was where it got weird for me. The Dodgers have an interesting situation at the back of their bullpen. Takashi Saito, the normal closer is pitching with a torn elbow ligament and hasn't looked the same since returning from the disabled list. Meanwhile, fill-in closer Jonathan Broxton has been pretty dominant over his career, and fared well as a replacement for Saito. Saito is also not available on back-to-back days at this point. So when Broxton came out for the 8th inning with a 4-run lead, I was a little perplexed. I know Torre wouldn't use him for 2 innings in the first game, but why use both Broxton and Saito in the same game? Why show the Cubs both your "shut-down" guys? And why potentially eliminate Saito if he's needed in game 2 with less of a lead? I don't see why Wade couldn't have gone another inning, or someone such as Joe Beimel, or Chan Ho Park couldn't have come on and pitched the 8th to set up Broxton for the 9th. This wasn't even a save situation! It was a 4-run game, and we could see shots of Saito warming up for the 9th inning. There's just absolutely no reason to use your "best" reliever who can't pitch on back-to-back nights to pitch with a 4-run lead. Presumably they already used their second best reliever in Broxton, and exposing your best reliever just doesn't make any sense. Warming him up, I completely understand because he could be needed if another reliever gives up a run or two in the 9th inning, but Torre seemed intent on using him until Russell Martin provided the Dodgers yet another insurance run in the top of the 9th. This brought Greg Maddux out of the bullpen to close game 1 of the series, and despite allowing a hit, he did just that. I personally thank Russell Martin for keeping Saito in the bullpen, and allowing us to watch Maddux pitch in the playoffs, and had been wondering what his role would be this post-season. Overall though, a nice job done by Torre handling the ball game, and it was a good game to watch as well. I look forward to tonight's rematch.

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