I didn’t write this yesterday, honestly because I kept going back and forth on it. For a long while, I had convinced myself that not pitching Steven Wright in the All-Star game was actually the right move. That it made sense to save the knuckleballer in case you were out of pitchers in extra innings and needed someone to go as long as they could. After all, someone needs to be the long man in the pen.
Then I realized that I had been tricked. I had fallen into the trap set by Major League Baseball.
They missed the first time they tried to trick me. I wasn’t fooled by the second wild card sham. You remember that one, right? They used to have three division winners and a wild card in each league. But, teams quickly realized that home field advantage wasn’t enough to waste your top pitcher trying for. You don’t pitch David Price on the last day of the season, and possibly get home field. You punt on home field and have him ready to go game one. MLB decided to “fix” this by adding yet another wild card team. As if this weren’t bad enough, they arranged for the two WC teams to play in a single game play-in. Basically, the winner of a coin toss gets to move on to the ALDS. Look at that, they crowed, “Winning the division is important again! Nobody wants to play in the WC game! We fixed it.” But, all they did was make the best out of the problem they created by adding the original wild card in the first place. Because you know what else makes winning the division more important? Only letting division winners into the playoffs. So, MLB almost fixed a problem they created, and then patted themselves on the back over it.
I almost fell for it with Ned Yost.
Like I said, his reasoning made some sense. You need to hold that guy back. If you need someone to pitch a long time, Wright would be your guy. If you’re down to your last pitcher, I’d want it to be a knuckleballer as well. He was fixing the problem.
He almost got me.
Because, you know what else would solve the problem of running out of pitchers going into extra innings? Not running out of pitchers going into extra innings.
Yup. Yost was fixing a problem he himself created in the first place. If you’re worried about having enough innings on your staff, how about you don’t make half your staff closers? That would fix the problem. Or, how about you let your starters go two innings each? That would solve the problem. Maybe you don’t worry about getting everyone into the game. That would solve the problem. And, the benefit of those solutions is it allows the AL ERA leader to pitch in an all-star game.
Because the team has ten pitchers on it, right? So, if they all went two innings, that would be 20 innings or work available to you. If the game goes 21 innings, then we’ll have to figure something out. But, other than that, there’s no reason whatsoever for you to “save a pitcher”. Just pitch your five best guys. If you need a sixth, or seventh, he’s ready for you. Don’t try and trick fans into thinking you’re doing the right thing. Don’t treat the symptoms, cure the disease.
Just play the game like it counts.