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June 12, 2014

Skewed Left

The Wisdom of Pinch-Hitting with Pitchers

by Zachary Levine


You could say that the most Sergio Romo save of Sergio Romo’s 2014 season was his 17th, a wobbly six-batter adventure against the Cardinals in which he entered with a two-run lead and held on for a one-run victory in this sequence.

RHB Jhonny Peralta: Strikeout swinging (slider, slider, sinker, slider)
LHB Jon Jay: Infield single
RHB Peter Bourjos: Infield popup (slider, slider)
LHB Daniel Descalso: Walk
LHB Matt Carpenter: RBI single

RHB Shane Robinson Infield popup (slider, slider, slider, slider, slider)

Okay, Romo is really good, so maybe that’s an unfair trademark. If you’re a nicer person, maybe his most representative save of the year was an even more recent one—no. 20 this past Sunday against the Mets.

RHB Eric Campbell: Strikeout swinging (slider, slider, slider, slider)
RHB Anthony Recker: Infield popup (slider)
RHB Wilmer Flores: Strikeout swinging (slider, 4-seam, 4-seam, slider, slider, 4-seam)

None of this is at all surprising. With his devastating migratory slider, Romo is a beast on right-handed batters. This year alone, righties are OPSing .445 with one walk and 16 strikeouts against Romo, while lefties are OPSing .740 with four walks and five strikeouts against him. In 2013, the split was .511 vs. .745, with a K/BB ratio more than twice as high when the platoon advantage was in his favor vs. when it wasn’t. In 2012, he had a reverse OPS split, but that was all BABIP driven. His peripherals still showed an extreme, platoon pitcher-like 9.5 K/BB vs. righties and 1.5 K/BB vs. lefties.

And it was by the end of the Cardinals save, as Romo stayed true to his established pattern, that I was thinking to myself with total seriousness something I never had before—not even in a joking way.

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Related Content:  Tactics,  Pinch-hitting,  Pitcher Hitting

1 comment has been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

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cmaczkow

Very interesting article. Like most things I learned about baseball, I first encountered this in Strat-O-Matic, where it was much more cut and dried and there were obvious situations where it was the smart move. As you note, real life includes just a few more complications.

Jun 12, 2014 10:09 AM
rating: 3
 
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<< Previous Article
Premium Article Minor League Update: G... (06/12)
<< Previous Column
Premium Article Skewed Left: The Econo... (06/05)
Next Column >>
Premium Article Skewed Left: The Missi... (06/19)
Next Article >>
Baseball ProGUESTus: T... (06/12)

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