If the save statistic didn't exist, would we even care about Gabe Kapler's decision in the ninth inning Wednesday in Baltimore?
Think about it. Unless the move backfires, rarely do pitching changes in the seventh or eighth innings become major talking points.
But in this case, because a save was taken out from under Edubray Ramos, many have questioned the necessity of Kapler's move to Hector Neris with two outs and nobody on.
The element of this debate that does invite criticism is that Ramos was rolling. He had struck out two batters on six pitches and looked more than capable of retiring strikeout-prone lefty Chris Davis to end the game.
But as far as valuing matchups over the save statistic? It's hard to find a whole lot of fault with that.
From the minor leagues on up, the Phillies want to create an organization in which players do not feel locked into roles, whether it's relievers or position players. It's what Kapler wants and what the Phillies want, and the night before Kapler made that interesting decision in Baltimore, he discussed why the Phils hold this philosophy.
"We have a lot of respect for players having emotional connections to roles," Kapler said earlier this week. "And it's not just relievers, but also guys who play every day or come off the bench, they like to get in routines and rhythms. We need to be aware of that and respect it."
"The game is valuing guys who are a little bit more flexible in a different way than they ever have," Kapler continued. "I personally believe that there is a mental toughness that comes along with a guy who can come to the ballpark every day and just be like, 'Use me however you want to use me. Put me in any situation, I'm game for anything.' That's a hard thing to do. For that reason, we move slowly and we think long about the decisions that we make.
"I think that eventually, players will realize how much value they bring to the team when they're flexible. And then they'll also realize — and this is just my personal opinion — that clubs will eventually pay for that. So it will, in turn, be a win for them and for the club at the same time and that's a pretty cool thing."
Many view the save as an arbitrary, outdated stat. It's pretty silly that it can be applied to a three-run lead the same as it can be applied to a bases-loaded, no-out jam in a one-run game. But saves and games finished do have practical meaning to players because those counting stats can help them earn more money in arbitration. Eventually, perhaps that reduces what someone like Ramos could be paid in a few years.
But the Phillies are focused on this "ready for anything" mentality from their players. So don't be surprised if this happens over and over again in the ninth inning and no Phillie accumulates more than 15 saves.
Wednesday was only a sign of what's to come in the ensuing months and years.