What’s was Scott Servais pondering in walkoff loss to Astros?
Look on the headline above. It’s a severe query born out of real curiosity.
After calling on pitcher Robbie Ray to shut out Game 1 of the American League Division Series with two outs within the backside of the ninth Tuesday, Mariners supervisor Scott Servais turned the main receiver of ridicule within the Seattle sports activities scene.
Ray, a starter and reigning AL Cy Young Award winner, had by no means been in that place earlier than. Additionally, he’d struggled all season vs. the Astros and had been shelled in his earlier two outings — together with his postseason begin vs. the Blue Jays.
So when Yordan Alvarez ripped a three-run homer off Ray’s sinker to present Houston the 8-7 victory, Servais’ alternative of pitcher turned the first supply of inquiry in Mariners media circles and past.
Why Ray? Why then?
Servais didn’t actually get into specifics when addressing the media Wednesday. He stated repeatedly that the crew has a “process” when getting ready for every sport, that he was “looking at the numbers” that have been in entrance of him, and that he stood by what he felt was a data-supported resolution. He declined to present an in depth rationalization of the method, or as he put it “how the soup is made” — which might be greatest for his crew, however not one thing that’s going to fulfill a baffled fan base. So questions stay. Questions, equivalent to …
Why put a starter who’s by no means pitched in a save state of affairs in that spot?
This isn’t an unprecedented transfer. The Dodgers referred to as on Clayton Kershaw out of the bullpen to get the ultimate two outs in Game 5 of the 2017 NLDS, and he delivered. Madison Bumgarner pitched 5 scoreless innings in aid to beat the Royals 3-2 in Game 7 of the 2014 World Series. And as Servais emphasised Wednesday, Mariners rookie starter George Kirby served because the nearer in Seattle’s 10-9 wild card collection win over the Blue Jays on Saturday — and he struggled via a lot of September.
But he hasn’t been struggling fairly like Ray — who gave up 4 earned runs in three innings vs. Toronto on Saturday, 5 earned runs in 5 2/3 innings vs. Oakland in his earlier begin, and who has only one high quality begin in his previous seven makes an attempt. So then …
What did Servais like about Ray’s matchup with Alvarez?
Again, not a number of specifics.
“Robbie Ray’s obviously a very accomplished pitcher. It is left on left, but Yordan Alvarez is very good left on left. We know that going into it,” stated Servais, speaking a couple of hitter who hit .321 towards southpaws this 12 months vs. .299 towards righties. “You have to weigh the odds and where it’s at right there, and again I’m looking at the numbers that are in front of me. I trust them.”
Perhaps one of many numbers Servais checked out was Alvarez having extra hassle with a sinker than most different pitches, as he’s hit .268 towards them this season with a slugging proportion of .463. This is in contrast with a .752 slugging proportion towards a four-seam fastball and a .663 slugging proportion vs. a slider — Ray’s two greatest pitches.
But Ray not too long ago included a sinker into his repertoire that he credit for his midseason turnaround. Could which were a part of Servais’ thought course of? We don’t know. But it’s a must to marvel how dependable a sinker is within the backside of the ninth of a playoff sport if you’ve been utilizing it for just a few months. In reality, I guess lots of people are questioning that proper now.
I stated final evening that it’s straightforward to second-guess a supervisor put up disaster. But going with Ray appeared … offbeat earlier than Alvarez took him deep. That stated …
What if that they had simply walked Alvarez?
His season OPS of 1.019 was second solely to that of the Yankees’ Aaron Judge, who hit 62 residence runs this 12 months. Could you not pitch round him? Servais stated no — that he would by no means wish to put the tying run on second base, and I agree with him on that. But it’s honest to ask why he didn’t depart Paul Sewald to shut the ninth, provided that he had extra expertise than anyone on the crew in that state of affairs. It is honest to marvel why he didn’t flip to a different dependable reliever equivalent to Erik Swanson — who has a 1.68 ERA this season — if lefty-righty matchups didn’t matter a lot with Alvarez. And in the event that they do matter, it’s equally honest to marvel why southpaw Matthew Boyd didn’t get the decision provided that 9 of the ten innings he pitched with the Mariners this 12 months have been scoreless.
There could also be affordable explanations for all of those. Sewald had given up a single and hit a batter that inning, Swanson was a foul matchup, Boyd wasn’t prepared for the magnitude of the second, and so forth.
Still, it appeared greater than a bit odd that Servais went with a pitcher who’s been subpar towards most groups for the previous month, and who has been subpar towards Houston all season.
“We made the decision we made based on the players we had available, based on the numbers and the information I had available, and stand by it,” Servais stated.
That’s honest. He is aware of extra about baseball than simply about anyone who’s questioning him. But this looks as if a state of affairs by which the numbers or the “process” could have prompted him to overthink it. Sometimes intuition beats data.
All this second-guessing evaporates if the Mariners go on to win the collection. But in the event that they don’t, “What was Scott Servais thinking?” wouldn’t be a query people ask throughout this news cycle — it might be one which hangs over his legacy.
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