Terry Collins fails in usage of Tim Byrdak

At best I was ambivalent about the hiring of Terry Collins as manager. But he’s done a nice job of keeping the team together after a 5-13 start which could have buried others. He’s handled the loss of three starters to the disabled list, another to the waiver wire and a starting rotation which has been frustrating, to say the least. He played a big part in shuffling through a bullpen that was dreadful early on and now has to be considered a team strength.

With the Mets playing .636 ball over their last 22 games, most objective people would have to be happy with Collins and the job he’s done.

However, there remains one glaring eye sore in the Mets universe, something that should be incredibly easy to fix.

Tim Byrdak should not be allowed to face righty batters unless absolutely necessary. I would like Collins to go to the blackboard and write that sentence 500 times.

Byrdak should not be allowed to face righty batters unless absolutely necessary.
Byrdak should not be allowed to face righty batters unless absolutely necessary.
Byrdak should not be allowed to face righty batters unless absolutely necessary.
Byrdak should not be allowed to face righty batters unless absolutely necessary.
Byrdak should not be allowed to face righty batters unless absolutely necessary.

Sunday, Collins brought Byrdak in to start the eighth inning. The Astros had the bottom of their order coming up but less important than the fact that they were Houston’s 6-7-8 hitters was the way these particular hitters swing the bat.

Jason Michaels is a righty.
Chris Johnson is a righty.
Clint Barmes is a righty.

For the love of everything good and proper, why would you bring in Byrdak to face that trio? Byrdak entered the game with an .883 OPS allowed against RHB, including a mind-boggling .467 OBP allowed. The average righty reaches base against Byrdak at the rate that Joey Votto does overall and Votto is second in the NL in OBP. Why on earth would you create a matchup where you essentially had to face Votto three times?

I know you’re going to be shocked by this, but Michaels hit a double and Johnson followed with a walk, forcing Collins to remove Byrdak from the game before a third RHB could do even more damage. The Astros scored a run in the inning, which ended up making this game a save situation. Collins had Francisco Rodriguez pitch the ninth, getting one game closer to his option-triggering games finished total of 55.

Collins was trying to avoid using Isringhausen, had already used Taylor Buchholz for two innings and watched Ryota Igarashi throw 34 pitches in Saturday’s game. But either Pat Misch or Mike O’Connor would have been a better choice, even if they don’t typically pitch in the eighth inning when the Mets have a lead.

Misch has faced seven righty batters this year and retired six of them, with the other reaching base via a walk. Lifetime RHB have a .761 OPS against him, 122 points lower than Byrdak’s total this season. O’Connor has also faced seven righties this year and has also retired six of them, with the other reaching via a HBP. His lifetime OPS against RHB is .788, nearly 100 points lower than Byrdak’s.

Both Misch and O’Connor pitched in Saturday’s game while Byrdak had not thrown since Tuesday, perhaps influencing Collins’ decision. But O’Connor had thrown just 10 pitches while Misch had delivered only four, meaning either of them should have been ready to go in back-to-back games.

Byrdak has been very effective versus lefties this year, as he’s limited LHB to a .615 OPS. But he should only be brought in when a lefty is due up. It was insane to bring him into a game when three righties were on tap. As a manager, part of your job is putting your players in a position to succeed. Collins put Byrdak in a position to fail.

Here, the fault lies with Collins, not Byrdak. As a LOOGY, Byrdak has done his job and done it well. Getting out righty batters is not his specialty and when he fails miserably versus RHB, it’s hardly surprising. Instead, the fault lies primarily with the guy who ignored the evidence and asked him to do something at which he is clearly no good.

Byrdak’s struggles against RHB is nothing new. His lifetime slash mark against righties is .289/.403/.483 in 663 PA. In two of the past three seasons, RHB have posted a .940 and 1.011 OPS against Byrdak. Quite simply, Collins ignored history and paid the predictable price for that disregard.

We can argue the merits of carrying a LOOGY on the roster. What is not up for debate is that Byrdak should never be brought on to face three consecutive righties. Collins has done a lot of good things so far this season but until he improves his usage of Byrdak, he still has a ways to go.

So, Collins needs to keep writing that sentence about Byrdak until the lesson sinks in.

4 comments for “Terry Collins fails in usage of Tim Byrdak

  1. May 16, 2011 at 2:38 pm

    I was kinda wondering about that move myself. Did he really have no other arms to turn to?

  2. Chris W
    May 16, 2011 at 3:05 pm

    Well written Brian. In my mind, the Mets have often failed in the situation. In the past, they would do the same with Schoeneweis and Feliciano. Of course this is even crazier since there wasn’t even one lefty due in the order. Your article reminded me of the craziness from the spring when Dan Warthen suggested that Byrdak wasn’t just a LOOGY. Hopefully Sandy Alderson and Co straighten this issue out.

    Here’s the quote from the spring:
    http://articles.nydailynews.com/2011-02-26/sports/28651550_1_ryota-igarashi-righties-and-lefties-bullpen

    It turns out that the Mets do not view Byrdak as a one-batter specialist, but as a reliever who can pitch to righthanded and lefthanded batters and contribute multiple innings per appearance.

    “We see Byrdak as someone who can be successful against righties and lefties and throw one or two innings,” pitching coach Dan Warthen clarified Friday, adding that Byrdak could serve as a lefty specialist if other options fall through…

    • Brian Joura
      May 16, 2011 at 4:44 pm

      Thanks Chris W

      That quote is amazing. I don’t remember reading/hearing that but coaches are always talking about things of this nature, despite all evidence to the contrary. I’m on record as not being a Warthen fan and this only adds to my mistrust of him.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: