It’s very hard not to have an opinion about Tampa Bay Manager Kevin Cash’s decision to remove Blake Snell from last night’s World Series game in the sixth inning, after allowing just his second hit of the game.
I have, in fact, several thoughts about it that I’d like to share:
- First and foremost, the World Series is a platform for greatness. It’s a time for the very best to perform at a Hall of Fame level. We’ve seen it from Sandy Koufax, Jack Morris, John Smoltz, Whitey Ford -- and so many others. I believe it is one of the jobs of a manager to allow that greatness a chance to happen.
- I believe Snell, from Seattle and the University of Washington, earned that opportunity.
- Would Cash have removed Don Larson from a game after six innings of perfect baseball?
- It is a proven fact that even great pitchers’ performance declines when facing the opponents’ batting order for the third time.
- But not every time.
- The Rays have been doing this as standard practice for the last couple of seasons. I believe if you take a pitcher out after six innings every time, you will eventually turn him into a six-inning pitcher -- a way of turning a theory into a reality by your own actions.
- Why would a starting pitcher ever want to be a part of this system?
- The hardest thing for Kevin Cash is that there is no way of ever proving he made a reasonable move. But history will forever show it as the wrong move.
- When you take a pitcher out of a game who was pitching the way Snell was, you immediately give the other team a big boost.
- One final thought -- the idea of replacing Snell at that point of the game was controversial. Replacing him with Nick Anderson, who had surrendered runs in his last six appearances, was downright indefensible. Meanwhile, Cascade High’s Ryan Thompson, who didn’t allow a hit in his three appearances in the Series, was available in the bullpen.
- Sometimes, even people who are a slave to analytics have to allow for an exception. And this would have been that time.