Friday, October 4, 2013

Fridays with FRANCO: Playoff Edition!

Here are some things I'm thinking, presented in a numbered list:

1. Pedro Alvarez, Garrett Jones, Justin Morneau, and Daryle Ward should all be in the lineup today.  Lance Lynn's splits:
vs. RHB = .291 wOBA
vs. LHB = .340 wOBA

Those guys should also go up there taking pitches.  It's not that Lynn is necessarily more hittable for hefty lefties; it's that he has trouble throwing quality strikes to them.  His primary pitch is the fastball, both the four-seam and two-seam variety.  Unless a fastball is cut, it will move in a bit towards batters of the same side as the pitcher's arm (i.e. tailing in on righties when thrown by a righty, in on lefties when thrown by a lefty).  Lynn gets his outs by using that natural trajectory to sneak up on the bat handles of righties, but when lefties come up, the pitch either fades out of the zone, or gets grooved right down the middle.  In short: he doesn't have an effective way to power pitch these guys on their inner half of the plate, and because of that, he's historically been prone to walking them.

2.  Gerrit Cole has never faced St. Louis.  Interesting if true.

3.  Clint Hurdle is a big dummy for leaving A.J. Burnett in there for so long yesterday.  Moreso, he's a big dummy for not having his bullpen mobilized earlier.  Same can be said for Dusty Baker in Tuesday night's game.  It's like these guys are afraid there's a charge for calling the bullpen and telling some dudes to start stretching.

Yes, the argument can be made that there was no beating Wainwright yesterday.  But if that's how you want to play it, if you just want to concede the game in the 3rd inning, then you should pull McCutchen and Martin and some other guys off the field so they don't get injured.  If you've given up on a game, then let the world know and don't take chances with your prized commodities.

What do I do differently?  I warm up Melancon and a lefty when AJ walks the pitcher.  I go out to the mound and tell him he's an asshole.  Then I pull him after he gives up the HR to Beltran.  I am not concerned with the possibility that it'll shatter his confidence; giving up 7 runs and only recording 6 outs is pretty confidence shattering, too.  So yeah, I'd bring in one of my best arms to try to limit the damage to 3 runs.  Maybe we lose the game 5-1 or 4-0 or something like that.  And the Cardinals are still up one game to none.  But we don't know that for certain in the 3rd inning.  All we know is that we have three to five games, in which we need to maintain the best probability of winning at all times.  If that means a 5% WPE vs. a 1.8% WPE, fine.  We're all gambling men at this time of the year; why handcuff ourselves to worse odds when it doesn't cost us anything to do the alternative?

4. I haven't come across a strong devil's advocate piece, yet, on The Drop Heard 'Round The World.  I was there, it was magical, the crowd was rocking and it doesn't hurt anything or anyone to believe we got inside Cueto's head.  But put everything on mute for a minute.  Johnny Cueto was up in the zone from the beginning.  He got one ground ball out, and that was Starling Marte trying to bunt for a hit.  All of his misses were up out of the zone; all of his strikes were in the upper third of the zone.  All of his outs were stingers hit to his outfielders.  Nils and I both noticed this and said that it was a good omen for home run hitting.  Sure enough, that's the kind of offense we got.  Did the chanting help?  Probably didn't hurt.  Were those moonshots completely predictable within the pattern of his prior location?  Yes.  Sometimes a dude drops a ball.  Sometimes the national sports media loves a narrative.  Sometimes the narrative is completely unassailable because of what the game means to that particular city and crowd.  This was our bloody sock, and I think it's a story worth telling. So there's my very, very conditional devil's advocate.

CWAAAAAAY-TOOOOOOW

5. St. Louis has some really bad pizza!  A couple buddies and I stopped in for a pie when we were passing through a few summers ago, and it was terrible. 

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