K-Rod: role should be to help Mets win games not ‘close’

If you pop over to MetsBlog, Matt has posted the audio from Jerry’s post game conference.

As I managed from home last night, I wondered why K-Rod was sitting in the bullpen while the game melted down.

Jerry says, “that’s not what a closer does.  That’s not his role.”


I know that if you get out of the inning that you have to bat and field again, but isn’t the point to rack up TEAM WINS not saves?

Why does K-Rod have to be a “closer?”   He can only pitch to end a game?   Why can’t he be a late-innings-shut down guy?

Kids, back in the 1970’s before Creeping LaRussa-ism there were what I call “Gossage Saves.”   If your team was up in the 7th 3-2 and there was a runner on second and the next three hitters were Ruth, Gehrig and Aaron you brought in Gossage to shut the game down right there.  Who cares about the S column?   Get those three out and then let someone else get the 7-8-9 guys.   Gossage often pitched multiple innings (imagine that!)

Let’s look at the week so far:

  • Sunday:  a 6-0 win.  K-Rod gets to chill.
  • Monday: a 10-3 loss.  K-Rod gets to chill.
  • Tuesday:  K-Rod enjoys his third night off in the row as the Mets lose in the Bottom of the 9th.  Why use him when there might be a save in the 27th inning?
  • Wednesday:  k-Rod throws 19 more pitches than I have this week, gets his 18th save pitching 1 and 1/3 in a 6-5 win.
  • Thursday:  K-Rod rests and waits for the save in the 29th inning.

If I’m managing, I try to get last night’s game to the 10th and then figure it out from there.   Once that bottom of the 9th starts the game is in Sudden Death Overtime.

I’d rather you guys kill me when I run out of pitchers in the 15th than kill me for a loss in 9.  If Iggy blows it in the 10th because I’ve already used K-Rod, well that’s extra innings for you.

We all saw that game melting down last night.  Why give it away so easily?

When a game is on the table to win, win it.

When a game is obviously lost (like Dickey’s last start) then you let the clowns in your bullpen pitch.   I’d let Ollie rot out there and pitch the last 6 innings of every 10-3 loss.   Torre had a nice run in NYC using “his guys” in wins and the clowns in losses.   I’m using all my bench and my reserve catcher.  If I run out of catchers in the 17th inning I’ll just torture Tatis and make him catch and if we lose on a passed ball, so be it.  Better that than one of my marquee players sits on his hands because he has some “role.”

The role is to win games.

Comment from Brendan:

K-rod did pitch Tuesday. He threw a scoreless 8th to keep the Mets in it. Which is exactly how you would want him used. Poor research.


Yep.  Busted.

9 Replies to “K-Rod: role should be to help Mets win games not ‘close’”

  1. And that is just one of the many reasons we need a new manager.

    It’s mindboggling to me that a manager will sit there and insist he can’t use his best pitcher (closer designation or not, the guy is probably the ‘best’ pitcher) on the road unless it’s a save situation, and instead you have to use your second-best/8th inning guy. And then goes on to say the Mets don’t have an 8th inning guy (implying I guess that he doesn’t have anyone good enough for this role, yet isn’t going to use the guy that he knows is ‘better’ than that role). He’s going to stubbornly sit there and throw games away on the road because he wants to throw his temper tantrum at Omar until he gets another pitcher that has the Jerry stamp of approval. (omg..is he doing this because they sent Mejia down?) This is not the way of a professional, winning, manager.

  2. Couldn’t agree with you more Shannon. Seems like K Rod is a big baby about coming in during non-save situations, so I’m sure that doesn’t help. I love how relievers talk about needing to know their role… Um… you make millions of dollars a year to do nothing but pitch every few days. How about your role is when the manager needs you to pitch, whenever it is… you do so without bellyaching?

    1. it might help if the manager didn’t cater to it. I’d argue that down 2 in the 8th is not the time to be using your closer, which causes you to have to use a lesser reliever in a tie game and ‘boom’, you lose.

  3. K-rod did pitch Tuesday. He threw a scoreless 8th to keep the Mets in it. Which is exactly how you would want him used. Poor research.

    Not to defend Jerry, but Pedro feliciano can’t walk Willie Harris. That’s unacceptable.

    The closer argument is old hat at this point. Unfortunately that’s the modern game. I can’t remember the last time I saw any manager use the closer in a tie game in the 9th on the road.

  4. disagree. this seems to be the one facet of baseball strategy people botch constantly. it’s the most easy to second guess, but it’s wrong. you need your closer to close the game when you’re on the road. that’s the guy you want for the last three outs. you’re already at a huge disadvantage playing in the bottom of the 9th and onward on the road and you want to have your bullet left to save the game. i’ve heard yankees fans complain about this with torre and rivera, mets fans about franco, benitez, looper, wagner, ayala and k-rod. you need to save your closer.

    not to mention the fact that the offense scored one run. i mean…come on, guys. do you know many teams that win games consistently by scoring a single run? the offense didn’t hit. not every loss in on the manager.

    1. Answer me this then brian: Which is the more difficult (i.e. higher leverage) situation? Tie game, bottom 9th, or up 1+ runs in the bottom of the 10th?

      The More AB you have in a game, the more likely you are to win. Pitching your best reliever in the 9th of a tie game gives you a better shot at those 3+ AB in the 10th.

      Also, the home manager likely will use his closer in the 9th. So if you get to the 10th, you either got a more tired closer that’s been extended past what he usually does, or a lesser reliever to hit off of.

      1. very good point. i agree with you on that. but let’s also make sure we don’t go under the assumption that every 3+ at bats are created equal. granted, the mets can do nothing but lose or stay tied in the bottom of the 9th, so getting to the 10th was the goal. but i think there was a distinctly different feel to last night’s game (i.e. if the mets were to get a run, it would be catching lightning in a bottle. either a random solo blast or a scratched out run to take a 2-1 lead). let’s face it. there probably was going to be no 7 run explosion in the 10th. i know you can’t know that for sure, but it’s operating under these kinds of assumptions that are part of being a major league manager. so if you use k-rod in the 9th there, maybe you do assure yourself of hitting in the 10th (although that’s debatable based on how he pitches in both tie games and non-save situations), but you’re still looking at the same problem later on. it’s definitely one of the trickier things to navigate as a road manager in the late innings of a tie game. but ultimately, i think you have to go the way jerry ended up opting for. i said it before and i’ll say it again, this is all made moot by the inability of these guys to hit livan hernandez and company last night. short of johan pitching a shut out, there’s no way the mets would have won without scoring more than 1. so the majority of the burden for last night has to fall on the offense. but…it is just one game. again, let’s keep an even keel. another part of a manager’s job is managing the game for 162 games, not 1. so let’s just hope we need k-rod back to back to back days to lock down the final three games of this series and there will be a silver lining in not using him last night.

        1. It’s fair, but what really irks me is that Manuel is basically he saying there is a big drop off from Frankie to whichever guy he’s going to use, therefore, it might be wise to actually use the reliever you think will get you to the 10th.

  5. I’ve got no problem with Jerry saving K-Rod in case he took the lead. (Using him in the 8th the other night, that’s a different story.)

    Instead of overanalyzing Jerry’s shortcomings, why not place the blame for last night’s loss where it belongs — with the players who only managed to score one run against Livan Hernandez.

    Davey Johnson & Gil Hodges would have a hard time winning with that level of offense.

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