GAME 16 REVIEW
I have a challenge for Dusty Baker, any other member of Cubs management, God, Deep Blue, or any other reader.
Explain to me the strategic merit of the double-switches that occurred in the fifth and sixth innings.
For those of you who missed it:
With the game tied at one, the Cards loaded the bases in the bottom of the fifth with two outs. Pujols is coming up. Dusty Baker brings in Scott Williamson
. The pitcher's spot is five batters away in our lineup (Ramirez ended the previous inning.) Baker brings in Neifi Perez
to replace Walker at second base, and flips the batting order. Williamson, instead of being due up fifth (the ninth spot in the order) is due up eighth (Walker's spot, the third in the order.)
Williamson gives up a base hit to Pujols, giving the cards a 3-1 lead, before getting the third out.
The Cubs go three up, three down, in the top of the sixth.
Williamson struggles in the bottom of the sixth, getting one out, giving up one run, with a rally continuing. So Baker replaces Williamson with Scott Eyre
. He also replaces Matt Murton with Freddy Bynum. Bynum is now hitting third (replacing Williamson, who replaced Walker) while Eyre is hitting seventh (replacing Murton). With the double switch, Eyre goes from being five spots away from hitting, to being nine spots away.
Eyre gets the last two outs. When the Cubs bat, they get set down, 1-2-3, again. So again, the spot in the order that the pitcher was double switched out
of never came to bat.
Murton and Walker are now out of the game that we are losing by three runs- Walker with four offensive half-innings left in the game, Murton with three left to go. In Baker's defense, when he pulled Walker, we were tied, but the Cards had the bases loaded. When Murton is pulled, we're already losing by three.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but the only reason to do a double switch when you bring in a new pitcher, is because you want that pitcher to be able to pitch the next inning as well. The switch pushes the pitcher's spot further away from batting, so that you don't have to either pinch-hit for him, or watch him flail away at the bat.
So if the pitcher's spot is due up first, second, third, or even fourth, and you're quite certain that you don't want your pitcher to bat, but you DO want him to pitch the next inning, then you do the double switch.
Now, I have the advantage of writing this piece after the fact, knowing that neither of these double-switches wound up serving their function, and in fact gave Bynum and Perez ABs that should have gone to Walker and Murton. But for the life of me, I can't understand that first double-switch. Why not just leave Walker in the game? If we rally in the bottom of the inning, and we get to the 9th spot in the order, Baker is then free to pinch-hit with whomever he wants - Barrett, Restovich, Hairston, or Perez - and we bring in a new reliever to a game where we've (likely) drawn closer. If we don't get to the 9th spot in the order, Williamson can pitch the next inning, and Walker can still hit. And it further removes the necessity (which isn't even a necessity, just the option) of making that second double-switch, the following inning.
Am I missing something, here? Is it worth removing two of your best offensive players from a game that still has a long way to go, and from a lineup that's missing Derrek Lee
, and inserting your two weakest hitters, all in order to be absolutely certain that Williamson and then Eyre could pitch the next inning without maybe having to take his turn in the batting order or be pinch-hit for?
I just don't get it. Did it affect the outcome of the game? Probably not. But there has to be some sort of Hippocratic Oath for managers, obligating them to not make moves that are more likely to harm the club than to help it.