Welcome to Second-Guessing Scioscia! As you might have surmised, it is a 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 Scioscia is not infallible and hope to use this series to bring light to the decisions in which Scioscia 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 a very exciting edition of Second-guessing Scioscia because not only do we get to praise Scioscia for adopting some truly progressive thinking that this site has been preaching in this very space, but we also get to praise an Angel player for second-guessing Scioscia on his own.
5/9/14 – The Closer Switcheroo
Ladies and gentlemen, we’ve done it. My work here might be done. Mike Scioscia has seen the light and is no longer deploying his relievers by inning number, but rather by situation, leverage and opposition. Here is how he deployed his two best relievers (arguably), Ernesto Frieri and Joe Smith this week:
- 5/9 - Smith pitched the eight against Jose Reyes, Melky Cabrera, Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion and Juan Francisco. Frieri pitched the ninth against Adam Lind, Dioner Navarro and Colby Rasmus.
- 5/10 - Smith pitched the ninth against Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, Dioner Navarro and Adam Lind. Frieri did not pitch.
- 5/13 - Smith pitched the eight against Rollins, Utley and Howard. Frieri pitched the ninth against Byrd, Brown and Ruiz.
- 5/14 – Frieri pitched the ninth against Revere, Rollins and Utley. Smith pitched the ninth against Howard, Byrd and Brown.
Clearly, Scioscia used Smith over Frieri based on when the most dangerous part of the lineup was due, especially if there was a major threat of the longball, which has been Frieri’s biggest issue. That much is plain to see from the usage above, but just to drive the point home, Scioscia fessed up to it himself:
“We’re trying to match up,” Scioscia said. “You never know where the lineup is going to find you. As the seventh inning was over, we felt real good with Joe and his sinker against those bigger bats and Ernie finishing the game.”
He still won’t admit that this is a permanent arrangement, but he’s been doing it for a week now, so let’s hope it sticks as it really is the best way to maximize his best relievers. It will actually be even more interesting to see if Sean Burnett (assuming he gets healthy and returns to form) can work his way into the equation by the end of the year. Either way, as long as this setup remains in some way, shape or form, it has the MWAH stamp of approval!
5/11/14 – Overruled!
As we all heard, Jered Weaver uncharacteristically asked out of a game. Finally! Someone has found the cure for Scioscia leaving all of his starters in far too long. The pitcher just needs to take himself out. It is truly brilliant in its simplicity. Scioscia had fallen into a bad habit of basically just running pitchers out there until they were over their prescribed pitch limit or until they got into a situation so bad that he is left with no other choice but to go to the pen. That’s why Weaver had to give himself the heave-ho. Weaver had just loaded the bases on a double, single and a walk. That is bad, bad trouble, but not bad enough for Scioscia to bring the hook himself, probably because Weaver was “only” at 102 pitches. That’s not enough pitches for an ace! Ace’s gotta ace!!! Well, Jered did what I’ve been doing all season long and actively second-guessed and overruled Scioscia right there on the field. PROGRESS!
5/13/14 – Shoemaker gets an early hook
Perhaps having learned his lesson from the Weaver experience a few days earlier and from the C.J. Wilson “times through the order penalty” fiasco last week, Manager Mike suddenly developed an itchy trigger finger. Matt Shoemaker was making just his second big league start, and acquitting himself nicely through five innings on just 57 pitches. Well, Scioscia had seen enough. It wasn’t even because of the pitcher’s spot coming up in the order, Shoemaker could’ve pitched the sixth and then be pinch-hit for. No, what Scioscia saw was that the order had rolled over for the third time and Rollins, Utley and Howard were due up. But instead of trying to bleed more innings out of Shoemaker’s arm, Scioscia played to protect the two-run lead and handed the ball to Michael Kohn, who has been excellent this season. Yes, it would’ve been nice to rest the pen a little bit more, but having one of your best relievers face the best part of the opposition’s order rather than a Quad-A arm facing them for the third time is a very smart play.