Phil Coke notched an adventurous first save yesterday, and he had some interesting thoughts about closing that he shared after the game. From the Daily News:
“It’s totally, totally different than I imagined it would be,” the 26-year-old lefty reliever said of trying to lock down the final outs. “It’s not the sixth, seventh or eighth – those are way easier.”
A few months ago, we discussed the art of closing and whether there is something different about the 9th inning from a behavioral point of view:
As baseball fans, we can extrapolate from this data a simple observation about the 9th inning. A team losing by one run entering the 9th may actually be giving more effort to avoid a loss than the team leading the game, who is thinking less about losing due to their being ahead at the time. This would suggest that a manager may want to head off disaster by pitching his best hurlers in the late innings, as the opposition may actually be trying harder in the 8th than the 1st.
In contrast, we saw the following from Tim Marchman about a month ago:
But for all the money teams spend on pitching, John Dewan of Baseball Info Solutions, a data company that works for major-league teams, is bewildered by situations like this. “In a three-run game,” he says, “you’d be better off bringing in your No. 2 reliever and saving your best pitcher, usually your closer, for the next game.” By probability, the most crucial moment in a game — the one where an out is the most valuable — often comes earlier, sometimes closer to the seventh inning.
It seems that Coke would side with the first excerpt, as he believes closing to be inherently different than pitching the 8th or the 7th. This would suggest that it makes sense to save your best reliever for the 9th inning. What do you think?
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