A quote from MLB’s game recap of yesterday’s Nats 2-1 loss to the Cubs:
“It’s just the way I manage,” Davey Johnson said of his decision [to remove Gio Gonzalez for a pinch hitter in the 7th]. “You can chalk it up to me. You don’t like it, chalk it up to me. It didn’t work out.“
Well, this post is going to criticize that decision, because not for the first time this season Johnson removed a highly effective starter on a relatively low pitch count only to watch lesser pitchers blow the game.
If I was Gonzalez (or Ross Detwiler, whom Johnson did this too earlier in the season against the Braves and which I commented on in this space in mid April, or Stephen Strasburg, who got yanked on opening day after throwing just 80 pitches; a decision I defended at the time but now see as the start of a pattern), I’d be really pissed, and I’d be demanding a change. Gonzalez was perfect through 6 innings, and was through 7 complete on just 85 pitches. He had 7-8-9 coming up in the eighth inning. What POSSIBLE reason was there to remove him from the game??
Johnson intimated that the reason he pinch hit for Gonzalez was because he “sensed an opportunity” to break open a close game. What opportunity was that? To bring up a cold, ineffective pinch hitter (as is most of the Nats bench right now) to feebly wave at 3 pitches instead of allowing Gonzalez to hit? I can defend pinch hitting for your pitcher there … IF you have guys on base and if there’s a real scoring opportunity. To lead-off an inning against a new, fireballing reliever?? No way.
Johnson’s job is to WIN GAMES. Not to worry about whether the bullpen is getting enough work. Hey bullpen guys; you want work? Be better pitchers and become starters. Or go play for a team with lesser starting pitching. Otherwise sit in the outfield and wait your turn.
I’m tired of watching our crummy bullpen throw away golden starts, and i’m sure the starters are as well. Yeah there was an error thrown in there. Yeah there were bloop hits and some unlucky seeing-eye singles. Doesn’t matter. Johnson helped turn a W into an L. That may not sound like much, but its only mid May and this has already happened more than once. It only takes one extra loss to cost a playoff spot.