Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Willie being Willie

That was a bit of a heartbreaker.

The game shouldn't have ended that way. For one thing, Heilman obviously should have let Lo Duca take that tapper in front of the plate. It didn't look like Lo Duca was as aggressive as he should have been in calling him off, but he did try and Heilman should have known how hard it would be to make the throw.

For another, once Heilman hit Rollins he should have been pulled. The pitch wasn't all that far inside, but it was enough to suggest he might not have his A-game. With that in mind, here is Chase Utley's platoon split from last season:

vs LHP: .219/.348/.469 in 128 AB
vs RHP: .313/.385/.561 in 415 AB

So Heilman walks Utley, bringing up Bobby Abreu. Here's his 2005 split:

vs LHP: .275/.353/.406 in 207 AB
vs RHP: .291/.430/.561 in 381 AB

Where is Billy Wagner? Bottom of the 9th of a tie game. Bases loaded. Two outs. Our left-handed, elite closer hasn't pitched since Friday.

Maybe Will Carroll is right about Wagner hiding a finger injury, because it's pretty much the only legitimate excuse for not using him in that situation. It's so simple: fail to retire Abreu, and you lose. Clearly you want to maximize the odds of getting him out, not the odds of seeing "Wagner (S, 8)" in the box score.

You would think in this day and age that the Save would have been more thoroughly demystified as nothing but a highly arbitrary measure of reliever performance. It's about the least informative "primary" statistic in the game. Wins and losses are practically useless as well, but they do little if any harm in terms of changing the way the game is played. Tonight I think we saw Closer orthodoxy actually make a team worse.

Unhappy ending aside, it was a damn entertaining game. Pedro struck out 10 in seven innings, but allowed all three runs in a bad second inning. Brett Myers was dominant for seven plus innings, until Nady finally got to him for a line drive two-run homer. Carlos Delgado then launched a second one against Tom Gordon to tie it up.

It may have been a poorly managed game from the Mets' standpoint, but it was pretty well played.

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