As I’ve made quite clear over time, I had no issue with the Baltimore Orioles’ Buck Showalter not using closer Zach Britton in the American League Wild Card Game. I thought it was actually smart, as you don’t want to use a guy in a spot in which he’s unfamiliar in a game with stakes that high. However I recognize why it rubbed some fans the wrong way at the time and still. Needless to say, I get why it was controversial.
So with that said, did we possibly see the foundation for another controversy involving a closer last night in game six of the World Series? Chicago manager Joe Maddon opted to use closer Aroldis Chapman in middle relief, prompting Chapman to throw 20 pitches in game six. After the game Maddon said that everyone on the roster was availabile in tonight’s game seven. But…
…did he set himself up for criticism? Speaking for myself, I wouldn’t have used Chapman. Now I recognize that some people are reading this and saying that my view is compromised given the fact that I thought Buck was right to leave Britton in the bullpen nearly a month ago. However Chapman also threw 40+ pitches in game five. While there was a day off in between, that’s almost three games worth of work in a sense.
And it also gets back to using someone in a strange spot. Chapman isn’t used to working in middle relief. Now granted you should be able to pitch in any spot at any time, however I’m refering more to who would in theory end up pitching in Chapman’s normal spot – just as I was in the case with Showalter and Britton. What happens if you bring in someone who’s not used to closing as it is…in game seven of the World Series?
This is debatable both ways for sure. My point also comes out to be that last night’s game was all but in hand. Was it really necessary to use Chapman? At the end of the day, if Chicago wins the World Series tonight it won’t matter. Nobody will even remember whether or not Chapman pitched last night. (Especially when you factor in the fact that it’s been 108 years.) That’s a given…
…but Maddon will be crucified in the Chicago media if they lose and somehow the Chapman situation comes into play. What if they have the lead and he blows it? Do we think that fatigue might not be a factor?
At the end of the day, Maddon is aware of the fact that this type of scrutiny comes with the job. And if it comes to that, I suspect he’ll be the first one to accept the blame. That’s to his credit. However leaving Chapman in the ‘pen last night would have taken that issue off the table.