June 25, 2012
Wins, and When Things That Don't Matter Start to Matter
You don't care whether Josh Outman gets credited with a victory, but Josh Outman cares whether he gets credited with a victory. On Saturday, with his pitch count well past the limit his manager has set for his new four-man starting rotation, Outman was pulled from his start. He was leading by eight runs, with two outs in the fifth inning and, therefore, an out short of getting credit for the win. He became the first starter since at least 2000 (as far as I went back) to leave a game with two outs in the fifth inning while leading by at least eight runs.
He did this:
Outman later made it clear that bumping his manager was an accident, and he made sure his manager knew that. "He gave me a chance to get the win and I didn't execute. The only person I can be aggravated at is myself," Outman said.
It's a funny sport, but it's just sort of inevitable that when a manager wants to try something new it's as likely to be upended by players' feelings as by, say, whether it makes strategic sense. Managers have been doing things that don't make strategic sense for a long time, and some of them win World Series rings and Manager of the Year ... plaques? Trophies? Whatever they get. [update: plaque.] But it's hard for a manager to keep hold of a team for long once he loses his players.
Tracy had already gone well out of his way to giving Outman a chance to finish the fifth inning and get the victory, letting the pitcher throw 92 pitches after swearing that he was committed to a 75-pitch threshold, even in the case of a shutout. So that's the first time he split the baby. It'll be interesting to see whether he continues to compromise, and whether these compromises make it harder or easier for him to keep the four-man rotation happy. While Outman may be glad that he got 17 extra pitches to try to get a win, it might make it harder to tell the next guy he doesn't get 17 extra pitches to try to get a win.
"At the end of the day, the team won, and that's the big picture," Outman said. Obviously. Obviously that's the big picture, and everybody on the Rockies knows it. But you know how hard it can be to see the big picture sometimes.