A four-run lead is darn near insurmountable

Posted by Steve

I cannot stand fans who second-guess managerial moves and chastise their team every day, which is why I don’t do it very often.  I have to today, however.

Going into the eighth inning, the Brewers had a four-run lead over the Phillies.  Both Turnbow and Cordero had not pitched in four days, but Yost elected to let Brian Shouse start the inning against right-handed hitting Aaron Rowand and switch-hitting Shane Victorino.  I actually wondered aloud why Turnbow wasn’t starting the eighth once I saw Shouse in there.  I knew Shouse was bad against righties, but the splits actually show he’s astoundingly bad:  Over the last three seasons Shouse has allowed righties to hit .311/.399/.493.

Now I know Shouse only allowed two runners, and the real implosion came from the 2006-post-All-Star Break version of Derrick Turnbow, but Shouse simply had no business being in the game at that point.  If the Phillies were sending up lefties, I could see it, maybe.  But Turnbow has been lights out, and he would have made it much tougher on Rowand than Shouse.  And it’s not totally fair to speculate, but who knows if Turnbow would have been so bad if he didn’t have to come into the game in a jam right away?

Dan mentioned to me that for whatever reason, he figured that Yost would have sent out Turnbow to start the eighth if the Brewers were only up three.  I guaranteehe would have been, but because it wasn’t a “save situation,” Yost figured he could get by.

So to simplify:

  1. Brian Shouse cannot get righties out.
  2. Number 1 doesn’t matter to Ned Yost if he has a four-run lead.
  3. Derrick Turnbow has a history of pitching poorly under pressure.
  4. The Brewers blew a game they should have won.

Edit! Edit!

I had to follow up on this.  I SWEAR I wrote this post before the article was released on JSOnline.  Excerpt:

With a three-run lead, Ned Yost would not have strayed from his usual formula of Derrick Turnbow in the eighth and Francisco Cordero in the ninth.

With a four-run lead, things change, and they changed for the worse for the Milwaukee Brewers Monday night.

That, to me, is a joke.  Later in the article, Yost does admit to using splits:

“I was just going on matchups with a four-run lead,” Yost said. “Looking at (Aaron) Rowand, his numbers have about a 130-point split between left and right, and we were looking for ‘Shousie’ to throw a ground ball and maybe get a couple outs there with ‘Shousie’ and have Turnbow throw the ninth with a four-run lead.”

Rowand was hitting .381 against right-handers and just .256 against lefties, and Shane Victorino hit right-handers to the tune of .303 but left-handers just .234.

So instead of looking at the splits of his own pitcher, Yost looked at a sample of 100 at-bats or so.  Interestingly enough, if he would have looked at a sample big enough–say 2004-2007–to tell him anything, he’d have seen that Rowand hit .280 against righties and .284 against lefties.


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