FanPost

Closer Usage

While watching Mike Lincoln, in his 2nd inning of work, give up the game-winning HR's in the 10th this afternoon despite Francisco Cordero sitting in the bullpen, the issue of closer usage came up in the game thread.  BubbaFan, like some MLB managers, advocated bringing your closer in for the 9th or 10th inning of a tie game at home.  At that point, if your offense gains a lead, it's a walk-off, and there's nothing for a closer to do.  I advocated an even broader use of the closer; use him in almost all tie games, regardless of home or road situation, instead of the 1-inning, 3-run saves.

Well, that sent me to Cordero's game logs to check Dusty's usage of Cordero against where I would use him.  Obviously, hindsight is 20/20, but I'll try to be objective and look at the game situation at the time to determine where I might differ from Dusty in my bullpen philosophy.

Games I would not have used Cordero where Dusty did:
5/31 (1 inning, 2 run defecit)
4/10 (1 inning, 3 run lead.  Send Weathers, Bray or Affeldt in with that kind of lead.)
4/13 (1 inning, 8 run defecit)
4/16 (1 inning, 9 run defecit)
4/24 (1 inning, 2 run defecit)
5/3 (1 inning, 8 run defecit)
5/10 (1 inning, 8 run lead)
5/24 (1 inning, 5 run lead)
5/27 (0.1inning, 3 run lead)
6/9 (1 inning, 5 run lead)
6/12 (1 inning, 4 run lead)

Games I would have used Cordero, where Dusty did not:
4/8 @ Mil, Bottom 9.  Reds tie it up on a Patterson HR in the top of the 9th.  I would bring Cordero in to hold the tie.  Could have changed the outcome, too, as Dusty went to Weathers in the 10th, and he gave up 3 hits and a run to blow it.
4/11 @ Pit, Bottom 8.  Down 1-0, I'd bring Cordero in 1) because he hadn't worked in 3 days, and 2) to hold the score where it was to see if we can get the offense going.  Ultimately, it didn't matter, as the Reds didn't score in the top of the 9th.
4/12 @ Pit, Bottom 8.  Down 4-3 in the game, down 2-0 in the series.  Bring Cordero in to hold it down, and see if I can steal one.  This one didn't end up mattering, either.
4/19 vs. Mil, Top 9.  I'd have used him for a 2nd inning here.  He hadn't pitched in 2 days, and this was a tie game going to extras.  Weathers blew the lead by giving up 2 runs in the 10th.
4/25 @ SF, Bottom 8.  Down 1-0 at this point, and Cordero hasn't worked in almost a week.  This is a no-brainer.  This one could have changed the outcome, as Harang started the 8th, giving up a run, and turned it over to Burton, who allowed another Giants' runner to score.  The Reds' run in the top of the 9th would have tied it if those other 2 didn't score first.
5/19 @ LA, Bottom 9.  Tie game on the road.  This one could have mattered, as the Dodgers scored against Weathers to win it in that inning.
6/2 @ Phi, Bottom 8.  Down 5-4, I'd have brought him in here.  Wouldn't have mattered, as Weathers didn't give up a run, and the Reds didn't score in the top of the 9th.

So, that's 12 games Dusty used Cordero where I would not have, and 7 games where I would have used Cordero and Dusty did not.  Of Dusty's 12, 6 of them were losses that would not have changed.  I highly doubt that we would blow more than 1 of those 6 big leads he used Cordero for.  Of course, if it got dicey with one of my second tier guys trying to close out a 3-run lead, I could probably bring in Cordero.

On the other hand, I count 4 games where I could swing the outcome by bringing in Cordero in a situation where most managers would not go to their closer.

It's crazy to me that "old-school" guys say they don't pay attention to stats, but let a stat govern when they use their best reliever.  My way, you've used him 5 fewer times at this point in the season, but had the chance to turn 4 losses into wins instead of wasting him for 3, 4, 5, or 8 run leads that Brian B could probably close out, and TheC definitely could.

Who's with me?

(Edit: Dusty used Cordero on 4/19, but didn't stick with him in the 10th.  I read that game wrong initially, and had it on both lists)

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