Bucking Braves Managerial Trends

Bucking Braves Managerial Trends

Don’t worry, I’ll get to the topic at hand, “Bucking Braves Managerial Trends”, but first…a rant.

Braves Fans are PISSED and should be

Last night was one of the most miserable and utterly unfair Braves losses I’ve ever encountered.  Fast forward to the bottom of the 5th inning, scored tied 1-1, 0 out, Johan Camargo leading off of 3rd, Culberson leading off of 1st, LHP Mike Montgomery toeing the rubber for the Cubs and Ozzie Albies at the plate. Montgomery throws a wild pitch, both runners advance, but Camargo is called out at home. Then hilarity ensues.

  • Braves challenge call at home.
  • In EVERY camera angle, he looks safe. IS safe.
  • Cubs analysts know it. Cubs fans know it.
  • Braves analysts know it. Braves fans know it.
  • Both dugouts know it.
  • The ruling? Out. Call stands.

But the hilarity doesn’t stop there. With 1 out, Culberson steals 3rd.

  • He’s safe.
  • In EVERY camera angle, he looks safe. IS safe.
  • Cubs analysts know it. Cubs fans know it.
  • Braves analysts know it. Braves fans know it.
  • Both dugouts know it.
  • The ruling? Out.

Apparently an out of position poor excuse for an umpire in Sam Holbrook didn’t know it.

Because the Braves lost their challenge in the Camargo play due to the lack of the call being overturned, they could not challenge the call.

What should have been a 2-1 game, 0 out, with runners on 1st and 3rd (after the Albies walk), turned into a 0 on, 2 out, 1-1 ballgame. Yes, not only would the Braves have had the lead, they would have been put in position for a big inning, yet umpires on the field and other worse umpires in the replay offices of MLB in NYC (powered by “Mitel” apparently) who, when doing their jobs, are supposed to go unnoticed, completely changed the game, and the beloved Cubs steal a victory away from the Braves.

The only thing that replay has been shown to “help” is when a player tries to steal a base and after successfully stealing said base, comes off a fraction of an inch while the fielder “keeps the tag” on the runner. Oh, you can bet your sweet pippy that call is going to get overturned. Awesome, MLB…you’re fixing problems that changes the game and leaving problems that need to be fixed for the sake of the game. My advice? Get your crap together or ditch replay and let’s get back to the excitement of a manager chewing up and spitting your poor excuses of umpires.

~end rant.

Time for Braves to Buck managerial trends

This is not a bash Brian Snitker segment so bare with me before making that judgment.

We all know that our manager Brian Snitker is not the greatest tactical manager in the game. From his odd double switches, to being married to veterans, and his love for the pinch hitter than can’t really hit while leaving the pinch hitter that can hit on the bench, there’s reason to dislike in-game decisions.  But…and it’s a big but, like Kardashian big, this Braves team is playing their butts off for Snitker. They love their manager and he’s built a clubhouse that seems happier and healthier than any team in a decade, and yes that includes some very good teams. But…

He’s very traditional. He wants his regular lineup. He wants his bullpen roles defined. It’s my opinion that if the Braves want to see continued success in a 162 game season, Snitker’s going to have to bend or the Braves players are going to break.

Bucking Managerial Trends- The Lineup

When Dansby Swanson returns (likely on Friday), the Braves will have one of the deepest lineups and benches that we’ve seen in a decade. Each player on the team, outside of Kurt Suzuki and Freddie Freeman, will have the ability to play at least 2 defensive positions and be above average MLB hitters. The entire lineup and the entire bench will be solid. Need proof?

Ozzie Albies- 2B, SS

Dansby Swanson- 2B,SS

Johan Camargo- 2B, SS, 3B

Jose Bautista- 3B, 1B, LF, RF

Ryan Flaherty- All IF positions and corner OF

Tyler Flowers- 1B and C

Ronald Acuna- All OF positions

Ender Inciarte- All OF positions

Nick Markakis- All OF positions

Preston Tucker- 1B and LF

*Charlie Culberson- All IF positions

*I think he'll be the odd man out once Dansby gets back.

This is remarkable flexibility, but it’s flexibility that is not really being used and that really needs to change. The Braves are in a wonderful position where they can give rest to every player once every 2 weeks and not bring the overall production of the lineup down. That is a luxury most teams do not have and it needs to be utilized to keep the 12 position players fresh.  This decision lies solely on the manager and if he doesn’t keep his bench players fresh and doesn’t rest his regulars every now and again, what we’ll see by season’s end is a stale bench and tired regulars.

 

Bucking Managerial Trends- The Bullpen

Like the lineup, Brian Snitker is a man of routine when it comes to his bullpen management. I’m sure that the players appreciate defined roles, but the game of baseball sees it differently. Let’s think about this for a minute. When are closers used? For the most part, it’s in the 9th inning…a clean inning, when the team is ahead anywhere between 1 & 3 runs. We all know this.  But is this the way it should be?

Rewind time…remember that game where Craig Kimbrel, who was considered the best reliever in the game at the time, was left in the bullpen to rot, while watching David Carpenter bury the game in the 8th inning with 2 outs by grooving a fastball to Juan Uribe? What would have happened had Kimbrel been brought in to get the final 4 outs of the game rather than the final 3? Who knows…but the odds would have been better for the Braves.

Now let’s take a look at last night’s game. Gohara was cruising through the Cubs lineup, 2.1 innings pitched 0 hits, 2 Ks and…was pulled. Insert Winkler. Sure, Winkler pitched 0.2 innings of perfection, striking out both opponents, but Winkler being a 1-inning type guy, we all knew he wasn’t going to come back out for the next inning. But I’ll ask this?

Why was Gohara taken out? If he stays in, Winkler can be used in the 9th.

There lies the problem.

We all know he wouldn’t be used because Arodys Vizcaino is the closer. And since the Braves were up 1 going into the 9th after a Ronald Acuna dinger, it was Vizcaino’s game to lose…and lose he did.

But why do roles HAVE to be defined in the bullpen. Put bluntly, they don’t. Last night, the Braves best reliever in Dan Winkler came in to get 2 outs. There were no baserunners, no jams to get out of…and the pitcher removed wasn’t struggling and/or at a high pitch count. Winkler was brought in because that’s his role.

Well…it’s time for the Braves to utilize their bullpen in a way that will win more ballgames and that is…yes, it’s groundbreaking:

PUT THE BEST RELIEVERS IN WHEN GAME IS LATE AND CLOSE

If it’s in Snitker’s belief to insert Arodys into a save situation to get his confidence back up….do it. But make sure it’s a 2-3 run lead, not a 1-run lead. In those situations, the Braves have 2 guys that have been sitting them down all year in Winkler and Shane Carle. Now add Gohara to that mix and the Braves have a formidable bullpen that should secure most leads.

Wrap-up

Braves have the most complete 25-man in recent memory, yet still treat the team as being “thin”. Let’s get some regulars some rest, redefine the bullpen by not defining it, and watch the W’s rack up.

Go Braves!

 

 

 

 

 

 

17 Comments

No doubt. Further, the game was tied when Gohara came out. What if the game had gone into extra innings? Wouldn’t it have been nice to have the extra pitcher for the extras? It galls me to see Snitker using three-four relievers every day even when the Braves are winning by a bunch.

Also, playing Bautista against righties seems like a awful percentage play

I agree with you with respect to Snitker’s bullpen management. But my question is does this approach make him an outlier compared to the majority of managers in MLB? My sense is that his traditional approach is still the norm for most managers. I would also point out that Snit is a Bobby Cox protege. His management style is very much Bobby. But Bobby won big and won consistently but it was before sabrmetrics became a force. If the Braves want a manager who manages in a less traditional manner, they’re going to have to look elsewhere.

Great win by The Braves tonight! McCarthy grinded out 6 innings tonight (would have liked to have seen him pitch the 7th..given that he was only at 85 pitches through 6 innings).

Last night, I pointed out that if our starters are ONLY going to go, at most, 6 innings a start, we’re going to have to start pitching guys AT LEAST 2 innings an appearance (I made a case for 3 innings an appearance, in some cases)..or the bullpen is going to get BURNED OUT by July (pitching at least 3 bullpen guys a night, one inning at a time…assuming the game doesnt go into extra innings).

Just look at the past 5 games (3 that we won, 2 that we lost)…and The Braves still have 7 more games until their next off day (Thursday, May 24th). The following are how many appearances/innings pitched that our best bullpen pitchers have made:

1. Vizcaino…4 appearances…4 innings pitch…pitched that last 2 games
2. Minter……3 appearances…2 1/3rd IP……….pitched one game in a row.
3. Dan Winkler…3 appearances…2 2/3rd IP…had today off.
4. Shane Carle…3 appearances…4 1/3rd IP…pitched one game in a row.
5. Sam Freeman…2 appearances….1 1/3rd IP…2 days off
6. Luis Gohara….1 appearances…..2 1/3rd IP…had tonight off

I dont really care, so much, about how much Moylan or Biddle pitch (I dont consider either of them, especially Moylan, to be part of The Braves ‘long term plans’).

HOWEVER, none of the above counts how many times those guys warmed up..yet didnt get in the game (for instance, Sam Freeman was warming up, along with Vizcaino, in the bottom of the 8th inning. He would have came in IF The Braves had scored more than 3 runs in the bottom of the 8th inning).

It looks like The NL East will be a 3 team race (The Phillies have talent AND money to spend…Washington has talent AND a willingness to sacrifice prospects in order to win NOW).

I’d like to see Mike Soroka given opportunities to work out of jams/go a little deeper in games (in other words, quit BABYING him by limiting him to 70-80 pitches a start)! Dude knows how to pitch! Let him!

Best case scenario tomorrow: Soroka pitches 7 innings….Winkler gets the save (unless The Braves score lots of runs tomorrow…which would give Moylan and Biddle an opportunity to rest our important bullpen pieces).

With The Phillies playing a 4 game series AT St. Louis…as well as The Braves hosting The Marlins for 3 games starting Friday night…HOPEFULLY The Braves will be able to ‘pad the lead’ by a few games (Washington is hosting The Dodgers for 3 games on Friday after hosting The Yankees tomorrow).

Paul, you need to back off on abusing the young pitchers. There is statistical evidence that throwing too many of the wrong kinds of pitches will definitely damage the arm of pitchers less than 25yo. There is a reason that Strassburg was once on an innings limit and not allowed to pitch in the playoffs – and he still has tended to get hurt. Call it the Avery effect if you want to, but these pitchers will not be durable because of genetics, they will be durable with care and proper handling. So give it a rest about lengthening 20yo arms and putting more stress on them. Let the Teherans and Foltys and McCarthys pitch 7-8 innings and be happy with Soroka and his 5-6 and 80 pitches. Same for Allard and Gohara. Also, you need to take another look at Biddle. He will be part of the relief core with Winkler and Minter. We have six good relievers right now – Winkler, Carle, Biddle, Minter, Freeman, and Viz. We probably need one more to be playoff contenders. And the eighth spot can rotate.

I have to agree that Snitker is too often pulling relief pitchers before he should. Maybe it will work to our advantage in allowing pitchers to pitch more often say three days in a row vs two but I think rotating them for slightly longer stretches (at least one full inning for example) and slightly less often would be better.

And just like that, Soroka to the DL. We must baby the young pitchers. I hope this is just AA’s way of limiting his innings, but still you have to believe the total pitch counts take a toll.

I saw that. Tough break for my fantasy team. I think it’s a smart play on the Braves part to be cautious with this young pitching though, even if it’s nothing more than some routine soreness.

Roger….”Let the Teherans and Foltys and McCarthys pitch 7-8 innings and be happy with Soroka and his 5-6 and 80 pitches.”

DUDE….do you know how many 7 inning starts The Braves have had in their 1st 42 games of The 2018 Season? TWO (Teheran and Newcomb both have one each)!

So between Teheran/Folty/McCarthy (who have made a combined 27 starts so far…9 starts for each of them)….that is ONE OUT OF 27 STARTS…that has seen a Starting Pitcher pitch 7 innings between them!

For you to say ‘be happy with 7-8 innings’, lol…..dude you might want to ‘check your stats’ before making proclamations like that, lol! Our WHOLE STARTING 5…..should basically be named “6 innings max”!

McCarthy is A VETERAN! 85 pitches through 6…and he couldnt have gone another inning last night? Sure, it worked out (we won)! However, the bullpen is going to be HELLA WORN OUT by July!

By the way, slow your roll on the ‘Jesse Biddle is going to be a good arm out of the pen’ deal, lol! Dude leaves way too many hittable pitches up in the zone!

To be honest I wasn’t too upset about Gohara being pulled. He could’ve continued but the Cubs had two tough righties coming up so I suspect Snit was playing the platoon matchups.

I would’ve been perfectly happy to see Winkler start the 9th considering how swiftly he disposed of said righties, but let’s not pretend that Vizzy is Scott Proctor or something. Sure his ERA has outperformed his periferals, but he’s generally been a decent performer.

Anyway, I generally agree with the critique but I wasn’t too burned up about the bullpen management on this occasion.

If anything, I was upset that Snit didn’t get himself tossed from the game in the 5th. But nice recovery for Vizzy and the Braves Wednesday.

I believe traditional bullpen management is a good thing, and I feel like his player’s probably appreciate Snitker for it. During a 162 game grind, guys need to have defined roles. The closer shouldn’t be having to mentally prepare himself for the possibility of entering a game in the 6th inning during the regular season.

I like Snitker. He’s not without his flaws, but who is? He’s doing a quality job this season, though.

I think you’re mixing up result and process. Doing wrong things sometimes gives good results. But the results are good not because of the process, but despite the process.

I think Braves are good not because of Snitker. it’s just the manager’s influence isn’t that big.

I feel like your argument might apply if we were talking about a ten game sample size. We’re a quarter of the way into the season, though. And, yes, he does make some questionable choices at times- I’ll give you that. There are certain things that are also intangible, however; such as the way the players want to play for this guy.

As you said, the manager’s influence isn’t that big at the end of the day. The manager needs to be a leader, though. I’d rather see a guy running the team who players genuinely like, versus someone such Bobby Valentine during his Red Sox tenure, where players shutdown or tune out.

I will say this: tonight’s rainout really HELPED The Braves on several fronts:

1. Lester vs. Fried HEAVILY favored The Cubs, lol!

2. Our bullpen gets A MUCH NEEDED day of rest!

3. With Soroka on The 10 Day DL, Fried becomes ‘an extra arm’ in the bullpen..that can be used as another multi-inning arm. With Soroka’s spot in the rotation next in line to pitch on Tuesday the 22nd against The Phillies (Soroka is eligible to come off The DL on Thursday the 24th…an off day)…..The Braves may be able to use Gohara as a spot starter on Tuesday…while using Fried as an extra bullpen arm between now and Soroka’s return on The 24th.

Even if The Phillies win tonight (they are up 4-2 in the top of the 9th against The Cardinals), The Braves will still be in 1st by 1/2 a game.

Hopefully an extra day off will benefit The Braves with The Marlins coming into town for a 3 game series. A 3 game sweep that does not tax the bullpen…would really be nice…especially since The Braves open a 3 game series in Philly starting on Monday!

With tonight’s rainout, The Braves will basically skip having Max Fried having to start…while going with Newcomb, Teheran and Folty the next three days against The Marlins (on their normal 4 days of rest)…while McCarthy opens against The Phillies on Monday (on his normal 4 days of rest).

The question becomes..what do The Braves do on Tuesday (Soroka isnt eligible to come off The DL until Thursday The 24th)? I say go with Gohara (and put Fried in the pen…possibly slated to come in after Gohara on Tuesday should Gohara prove to not be effective on Tuesday).

Gohara needs to eventually move into The Rotation at some point in 2018 (he’s part of our future pitching rotation). I’d rather see him start on Tuesday..than Fried (who I will maintain will eventually serve in The Bullpen Long Term).

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