Games » Cleveland IndiansMay20
If I did my math right, Luke Hochevar piled up 35 points in a single game. The more I use this system, the more I like it and the more sense it makes to me. I’m finding it’s not just a system, it’s a baseball philosophy.
Take this game by Hochevar: Nine innings, three earned runs. That’s a 3.00 ERA which of course is very good, but the system only awards a total of seven points for that (Quality start +3 and 3 runs or less in a complete game +4). How did Hochevar rack up the other points in what the system says was an even more dominant game than it might have appeared?
Let’s break it down: only two walks (-2 points, the only negative points Hochevar put up). Seven innings without a walk, (+7) which makes sure the Indians only got what they earned during those innings. Seven strikeouts, (+7) which takes pressure off your defense because for two and a third innings all they had to do was watch Hochevar send hitters back to the dugout. Fewer than 12 pitches in an inning four times, (+4) which keeps the defense on its toes and the opposition feeling that the other team is constantly on the offensive. A complete game, (+6) which sets the bullpen up for the next series. And, finally, the victory (+6).
Ron Polk’s system makes you break down and appreciate the separate elements of a baseball game that lead to victory or defeat…he just might have a future in this game.
The first time I asked a professional ballplayer to teach me about managing, I was told to think of the game in thirds. The first three innings define what you need to do in the middle three; the middle three innings define what you need to do in the last three.
For instance: you play the first three innings straight up, letting the players swing away. If the score is 0-0 headed into the fourth, it might be time to play for one; you’re in a low-scoring game. If it’s 5-5, this is probably going to be a high-scoring game and playing for one more run might not make sense because six runs is unlikely to be enough.
The players involved can also change the strategy: if you’ve got Greinke going, three or four runs may be enough, you can play for one early. If Meche is throwing, you might need seven or eight to win, so you don’t want to give up outs to score what might be a meaningless run.
If you like your bullpen, you just want to be ahead when the starter leaves, so playing for one run in the sixth might make sense. If your bullpen is a liability, you’ve got to pour it on in hopes of being far enough ahead that the relievers don’t screw it up for you.
Ned Yost has said he won’t bunt early. This might just be a reflection of how he likes to manage (I’ve heard managers tell players, “The first six are yours, the last three are mine.”) Yost’s attitude might also reflect what he thinks of the bullpen. He’s not going to play for one until he feels sure that run will be meaningful (no sense working for a one-run lead if your pen tends to give up three). Ned might need to see Soria coming over the horizon before he starts trading outs for bases.