I am certain by now you've figured out that I pre-write all of these and at times during the course of a baseball season my work schedule is going to make it so I'm going to have to write a few of them before the previous evening's Nats game. This is one of those days, and so instead of talking about what happened in last night's tilt between the Nats and Red Sox or whatever hot Strasburg takes came out of the game I am going to address some other issues.
Matt Williams is a moron. I don't actually think this, but a lot of people do, and because of this Matt Williams can do nothing right. We've discussed how his bullpen use made logical sense and how because the players didn't perform in the roles he put them in people decided the players needed to be in new roles. When the players still failed in those roles it was because there must be some other role for them and Matt Williams needed to find it yesterday.
As of yesterday morning what people wanted was for Matt Williams to play match-ups in every inning not belonging to the starter or Drew Storen and if he didn't do this then Matt Williams was a terrible manager. Let's not ignore the fact that this would take at least five relievers a night and that would be only if the starting pitcher made it six innings and that the opposing manager was nice and doubled up on left handed or right handed batters. If the seventh went L-R-L then Matt Williams would need three relievers just to get through that inning and if the eighth went R-L-R that is three more relievers unless people wanted Matt Williams to stick a reliever in left field for a batter, and I don't think they wanted that.
Nats fans are frustrated and I don't think they know what they are asking for. First off if your team is playing match-ups in the eighth inning then it has a bad bullpen. A bullpen without a second full inning reliever is not in good shape. Match-up relievers are like platoon hitters. They are in that role as a last gasp to stay in the majors and like many platoon hitters some match-up relievers can make a long career of it, but it is much better to have a bullpen full of full inning relievers, and with the amount of question marks coming into the season in the bullpen some were bound to be answered in the negative as Matt Williams sorted them into their roles.
This is one of the areas where I am not a full stats person. Human beings like to have roles. Some people needed to be told what to do and to know what to expect when they show up to work. I had a job once where I never knew what to expect when I showed up to the office. I had no idea if I'd be estimating a new project, planning the construction of a current project, or working in the shop building a project. Hell, at this time I was running QuickBooks and payroll as well. I never knew what I was doing and all the projects suffered for it. I had to fill too many roles and it made coming into work every day very difficult. Relievers aren't much different in the regard that they want to show up to the office with a basic idea of what they're going to be doing that evening. They make a lot more money than me but routine and predictability is still a nice thing to have.
Put the human condition of the relievers out of your mind and think about what it would mean for the season if match-ups were being played every inning after the starter exits and before Storen enters and you'll soon start to see the bullpen would be burned through quickly. Using five relievers a night is a good way to use up a bullpen and lose a lot of games later in the season when no one is available. And that isn't even to mention that with Rafael Martin's promotion and Cedeno's DFA playing match-ups is now more difficult. Martin is probably temporary. He does have options and either Rich Hill or Matt Grace can fill the second lefty role that Cedeno abandoned. The bullpen is a work in progress, but I have every faith that Matt Williams and Mike Rizzo will figure it out sooner rather than later.