Expanded rosters lead to more crappy LOOGY decisions from Terry Collins

Terry Collins has 17 pitchers to choose from and it only seemed like he used every one of them Saturday night, when he trotted eight different pitchers out to the mound in a game where the Brewers batted eight times. Some of this was unavoidable, as Jenrry Mejia did not record an out in the fourth inning. But some of it was more of Collins’ platoon advantage masturbation, which was unnecessary as always and as hurtful as we’ve become used to here in 2012.

Collins now has three lefty relievers at his disposal, which must be the equivalent of giving a junkie a bag of smack. To be fair, the junkie will go through that smack as quick as he is able while Collins only used two of his three lefties out of the pen last night. But the results were about the same. I have no doubt that Collins got a quick high while chasing the platoon advantage but when it was all said and done, the high didn’t last and the final results were regrettable.

Both Justin Hampson and Robert Carson were pulled before pitching a full inning, each left with a runner on base and the subsequent reliever did not strand the inherited runner.

Hampson came on to start the bottom of the fifth inning, as the Brewers were due to bat lefties Taylor Green and Nyjer Morgan to be followed by RHB Jean Segura. Except the Brewers pinch hit for Green with RHB Carlos Gomez. Hampson retired the righty before allowing a scratch hit to the lefty. With another righty coming to the plate, Collins made the switch so that Hampson did not face a guy who came into the game with a .552 OPS.

New pitcher Colin McHugh predictably retired Segura and the Brewers pinch-hit for the pitcher’s slot with lefty Travis Ishikawa. Collins, in his haste to remove a lefty so he didn’t have to face a batter with a .552 OPS, ended up with a matchup of a SP in a relief role facing a guy with an .802 OPS with the platoon advantage. Ishikawa hit an RBI triple to score the inherited runner.

Two innings later, Carson allowed a leadoff walk to Segura, retired two lefty batters before being replaced with the dangerous Rickie Weeks coming to the plate. It has not been a good year for AVG for Weeks, but he still came to the plate with 51 XBH for the season. However, Weeks has a .342 SLG versus LHP this year, compared to a .431 mark against RHP. Collins brought in Elvin Ramirez and the righty served up an RBI double to Weeks allowing the inherited runner to score.

Earlier this year, we saw what happened when Collins used Tim Byrdak in an extreme lefty specialist role. It burned out the rest of the bullpen from overuse and most likely contributed to Byrdak’s season-ending injury. With increased bodies available now in the pen, the likelihood of burning out any pitcher is significantly reduced.

Yet we have to ask if it’s in the interests of either the club or pitcher – both short term and long term – to be utilized in this LOOGY way. If you carry a pitcher all year who contributes fewer than 40 IP – like Byrdak did in 2011 – it requires the other relievers to pitch more innings. And what will happen if Collins gets his wish and carries two LOOGYs in 2013?

If the Mets carry Carson and Josh Edgin next year and Collins uses them in these limited roles, two of his relievers will combine for 80 IP, meaning the other five relief spots will have to pick up around 400 innings. Bobby Parnell leads this year’s relievers with 58.2 IP, so if you do the math you could see how this might be a problem.

Of course, some of the innings will be picked up by September callups but with news in the air about MLB seriously considering changes to how expanded rosters will be handled going forward, it would be a mistake to assume that the Mets will be able to carry 17 pitchers again this time next year.

Plus, as good as Byrdak was in 2011, give me what Bob Myrick did in 1977 or Carlos Diaz in 1983 or Darren Oliver in 2006. Give me a lefty reliever who can toss a full inning in each appearance and one who doesn’t need to be replaced when a RHB with a .552 OPS comes to the plate.

It is not going to get any better as long as we accept the LaRussification of bullpen usage. Enough already with the tacit approval from all corners of our manager employing a C-Y-A strategy of chasing the platoon advantage and thereby eliminating himself from second guessing. Hey, it can’t possibly be TC’s fault – he brought in a lefty to face a lefty and a righty to face a righty!

It makes no sense to remove a LHP because a righty with a .552 OPS is coming to the plate. It makes no sense to bring in a RHP when the batter has a higher SLG percentage against righties. It makes no sense to take out a pitcher who is doing well just because he may not have the platoon advantage. It makes no sense to remove a lefty reliever and then one batter later come up with an unfavorable matchup for your righty reliever. If you think about it a bit you can come up with additional scenarios where this makes no sense.

There are batters who deserve special attention. When Ryan Howard comes to the plate, his career SLG is 184 points higher against a righty pitcher. By all means let’s have a lefty pitcher face him in late and close situations. But Howard’s teammate Chase Utley has a career .855 OPS versus lefties. Let’s get our best available pitcher – regardless if he’s a lefty or righty – to face Utley in those same late and close situations. And if Domonic Brown, another lefty-hitting Phillies player, comes to the plate – he’s not very good so just let whoever is pitching currently in the game stay in to get him out.

It’s not okay to mindlessly chase the platoon advantage regardless of who is pitching and who is coming to the plate. It’s a very useful tool in certain situations but making it your sole deciding factor 100 percent of the time is simply not the right way to go about things. It’s no good for the lefty reliever in question – our last two primary LOOGYs both ended up on the DL with potential career-ending injuries – and it’s no good for the team if it forces every other reliever to pitch extra innings with more unfavorable matchups.

I like both Carson and Edgin and can see them both filling a role in the bullpen for the 2013 Mets. But I want them both to finish the year with more IP than games. If Collins uses them in the opposite direction, it’s a waste of their talent, a waste of two pitching spots and will likely lead to more crappy relief pitching like we’ve witnessed here in 2012 in general and last night in particular.

7 comments for “Expanded rosters lead to more crappy LOOGY decisions from Terry Collins

  1. Name
    September 16, 2012 at 11:59 am

    There are some players,like you said, who do deserve a LOOGY or a righty-righty matchup. However, probably over 95% of the rest of the hitters any good reliever will be able to get out, lefty or righty. I have been advocating for over 3 months now that TC is a terrible bullpen manager. Absolutly stinking terrible. I have never seen someone who is so enamoured with matchups. And since you can’t win when 1/3 of your team can’t perform, I have been advocating the let of TC, simply because he can’t manage the bullpen.

    As for the new expanded rosters rule, it is very simple just to leave the other SP off the roster for that night and you get 4 extra relievers every game. So you would still be able to have an 11-12 man bullpen.

    • September 16, 2012 at 12:12 pm

      The last proposal I heard mentioned for rosters was that your 25-man would “freeze” on the last day of August and you would have the ability to add five players after that. Now you could still make all of them bullpen pieces but it does eliminate the thing you specifically addressed above.

      • Name
        September 17, 2012 at 11:59 pm

        The proposal i heard was that you can carry as many players as you want, but at game time you “lock in” the 25 men you want to use. The proposal you mentioned seems like it is just making it a 30-man roster instead of 40. I think that in whatever they decide to do, they’ll probably make some sort of rule that will eradicate the problem i mentioned above.

  2. Mack Ade
    September 16, 2012 at 2:31 pm

    I’m not judging anyone about anything anymore this season. My season ended when Brooklyn lost their last playoff game.

    I didn’t watch yesterday’s game, but I did peak at the box score. It really doesn’t matter which relief pitch pitches where when your starter goes in the tank in the first two innings.

    All I want the Mets to do, pitching wise this season, is:

    1. do everything you can do to support a 20-game season for Dickey

    2. shut down anyone you deam important to your 2013 plan

    3. give Carson, Mejia, Familia, Edgin , El Ramirez as much innings as you can

    4. shut down Rauch

    Anybody that has studied the Baltimore Orioles success this year know that the one area they have excelled in has been the bullpen.

    On paper, my 2013 pen (so far) is: LHP: Carson, Edgin
    RHP: Familia, Mejia
    Closer – Frank Francisco

    That’s all I have ‘on paper’ right now and, the only reason Francisco is there is because of his contract.

    BTW… I consider this a pretty damn good start for the 2013 pen.

  3. Metsense
    September 16, 2012 at 10:23 pm

    The Mets are stocked with pitching in the minors and hopefully sometime in the next 2 years, the starters that aren’t good enough for the rotation will become middle relievers and should be able to go 2-3 innings.If the starter didn’t get the team to the 9th inning then the middle reliever should be the bridge to the ninth inning or at least until they are due up in the batting order. If the team is losing then they should be able to finish off the game. All these short stints by middle relievers only tires a bullpen. “LaRussication” and LOOGY are two baseball standards I would like to see retired. Name and Brian,you have convinced me that TC doesn’t handle his bullpen well.

    • Mack Ade
      September 17, 2012 at 9:51 am

      Metsense:

      You bring up a point that should be brought up much more often, but… I’ve been stuck on this statement for close to a year now… under the current operation of not participating properly in the free agency market… this team will not put up it’s best product until the 2014 season.

      2014 will give you a rotation of Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, RA Dickey, Jon Niese, and the addition of either Rafael Montero or Michael Fulmer.

      Dillon Gee will join Jeurys Familia, Robert Carson, Josh Edgin, and Jenrry Mejia in the bullpen with (probable closer) Jack Leathersich, Darin Gorski, and Cory Mazzoni. There simply isn’t any room for Gorski and Mazzoni in the roation.

      This is a lot of talent and it’s just beginning here…

      2015 will bring Tyler Pill, Domingo Tapia, Jacob deGrom, Luis Mateo, Marcos Camerena…

  4. NormE
    September 17, 2012 at 12:21 am

    Once it became clear that the season was a lost cause the proper procedure should have been to allow the young “talent” to show what it could do. Carson, Edgin, etc., should have been given the chance to pitch to both righties and lefties. Let them learn from the experience.
    The same holds for those position players that may have a role in the future. Allow Duda, Valdespin and whomever to play on a regular basis.

    Brian, I’m with you and Metsense on my distaste for the “LaRussification” of the bullpen.

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