Second Guessing Scioscia – Week 13: Splits are the difference

Welcome to Second-Guessing Scioscia, our look back at some of the questionable decisions that Mike Scioscia made in the last week. This isn’t because we dislike Scioscia, in fact, MWAH is officially pro-Scioscia. However, we do realize that he is not infallible and hope to use this series to bring light to the decisions in which he went wrong (or was at least perceived to be wrong by some). At a minimum, it will help us all come to a better understanding of what goes on during games but maybe, just maybe, we’ll get lucky and this will somehow make Scioscia more self-aware of his more chronic managerial missteps.

This is going to be a brief version of Second Guessing Scioscia as I am on a vacation of sorts. Also, Scioscia didn’t screw up too badly this week. However, the screw ups he did make, he found fit to repeat them, just to drive the point home. Allow me to explain.

6/21/14 – Scioscia Choo-Choo-Chooses wrong

Up by one, Mike Scioscia decided to give Kevin Jepsen a chance to close since Ernesto Frieri was a mess and Joe Smith had a stiff neck (or something like that). Because Jepsen had been hot lately, it was his opportunity. Sure, Scioscia claims his closer choice is based on match-ups, but that is an obvious lie because Choo was the first batter up. He is left-handed and lefties kill Jepsen, which Scioscia should know. So what happened? As the video above shows, Choo won. You know, because it was a bad match-up.

What Scioscia did was fall into the “hot reliever” trap. The thing about trying to ride a hot streak is that it empowers you to take chances, but you also don’t know when the streak is going to end. When it does, if you are being too risky, you are going to get burned. Scioscia got burned.

Scioscia deserves some slack here though because he was working with half of a bullpen, basically. There weren’t many other options at his disposal.


6/24/14 – Fool me twice

Another game, another instance of Scioscia simply trusting his gut and ignoring splits with Jepsen. To explain what I mean, which I feel like I shouldn’t have to because we’ve all watched Jepsen enough over the years to know he can’t get lefties out, here are Jepsen’s career splits:

vs. RH: .278 wOBA
vs. LH: .341 wOBA

I’m not going to bet you over the head with it, but he is obviously worse against lefties, with much of the difference coming in the power department. His strikeout and walk rates are similar, but but the power gap is enormous. Surely, Jepsen must be doing better this year though, right? Why else would Scioscia suddenly trust him?

WRONG! The splits are worse. Jepsen is actually much better against righties this year with a .227 wOBA but against lefties, he is at .344 wOBA. So, he is killing righties, but is still just as ineffective against lefties. Sorry.

Knowing this, (well, he should be knowing this) Scioscia brings in Jepsen to face the top of the Twins order which is a switch-hitter, a righty and the left-handed Mauer. Not an ideal situation. Again, there has to be some allowance because Scioscia has limited options. Sure enough though, Jepsen got himself in trouble and really only got out of it because of a double play ball. He deserves credit for that, but he came very close to making a big mess of things.


6/25/14 – Third time is not the charm

There is no excuse for using Jepsen in this game the way Scioscia did. Limited options or not, there were better choices this time around. What happened here was Garrett Richards got in trouble and needed to be bailed out, so Scioscia turned to Jepsen, apparently out of reflex. This was a bad idea from the start because it meant Jepsen facing a powerful hitter from the left side, Kendrys Morales. He promptly singled. Jepsen then got the righty Arcia only to have to face another lefty. That lefty, Eduardo Escobar, hit a rocket to first base that Pujols made a nice play on, otherwise we were likely looking at a one-run game all of the sudden.

Again, Jepsen can’t handle lefties yet Scioscia called on him here. What he should’ve done is gone with any of three options:

  • Hector Santiago, an actual lefty who would’ve turned Morales around to his less dangerous side
  • Mike Morin, who holds lefties to a .294 wOBA thanks to his platoon-neutralizing change-up
  • Ernesto Frieri, who stinks, but has always been more effective against lefties than righties

Honestly, this would’ve been a good opportunity to get Frieri some work and show a little faith in him. The lead was big enough that Frieri could’ve coughed up a homer and the Angels still would’ve had breathing room. If his stuff was actually working, he was easily the best match-up available, but Scioscia ignored him. Morin would’ve been a strong choice as well, in fact, Scioscia used him the very next inning. Santiago might’ve been best, but I think the Angels were trying to avoid using him so he is fresh for his upcoming start. Jepsen is pretty far down the list here, but Scioscia has his guys that he trusts for reasons that make no sense sometimes.


Garrett Wilson

About Garrett Wilson

Garrett Wilson is the founder and Supreme Overlord of and editor at The Outside Corner. He's an Ivy League graduate, but not from one of the impressive ones. You shouldn't make him angry. You wouldn't like him when he is angry.