Cardinals Manager Mike Matheny has made some interesting moves so far this year that do not really have basis which begs the question: Should Matheny use sabermetrics?
The first 5 innings of last nights game against the Cubs was an old fashion pitchers duel. Former Cardinal, John Lackey looked spectacular in his return to Busch Stadium. His slider had hitters looking foolish, striking out a remarkable 11 batters in 7 innings. For the home team, Mike Leake looked like he was going to finally regain his form. After giving up a leadoff double to Dexter Fowler, Leake settled down for the next 5 innings when he only gave up one more hit.
In the 6th inning it started to unravel for Leake when he surrendered a leadoff homerun to Fowler. The next inning the game started to get out of hand. Leake gave up 3 more runs and with the inconsistent Cardinal’s offense, the game was all but over.
Cardinals Manager Mike Matheny should have looked across the diamond to Cubs manager Joe Maddon to know when to have taken Leake out. Maddon spent 9 years in Tampa Bay where they use sabermetrics religiously. Maddon is an expert in using statistics to make his lineup, shift his infield, and when to take his pitchers out.
Mike Leake gives up run-scoring single to John Lackey frustrated dot gif. pic.twitter.com/57QgPw4ubn
— Baseball is Fun (@flippingbats) April 19, 2016
Sabermetrics say that starting pitchers should be taken out when they face the other teams lineup the third time. On average, when a pitcher faces a batter for the first time in a game, the hitters hit .240 but when they face a pitcher for the third time in one game, they hit an impressive .270. When the 6th inning came around, the Cardinals starter was cruising but caution should have been used starting that inning.
Now I’m not saying that Matheny should have known that Leake was going to break down in the 6th inning and should have taken him out. Leake was having an extremely impressive game and deserves more than the scorecard says. In the 7th inning he caught a tough break when Aledmys Diaz muffed a double play ball and then threw the ball into the stands which ultimately, along with the Cardinal’s missing offense, cost him the win.
Matheny is an old school manager who uses his gut more than the numbers. Today the game is changing drastically and if Matheny and his Cardinals want to keep up, he should seriously consider implementing the use sabermetrics.
Photo Credit: Billy Hurst-USA TODAY Sports