As I write this, Joe Torre has just walked to the mound to yank Chad Billingsley after 7 1/3 shutout innings, in which he struck out 5 and allowed just 3 hits (which should be 2; you can thank the friendly hometown scorer for giving Michael Bourn a hit on the grounder that Casey Blake should have had).
With a 2-0 lead and one out in the 8th, Torre didn’t go to Hong-Chih Kuo, who hasn’t pitched in a week. He didn’t go to Ronald Belisario, who’s been impressive overall but blew a lead in the 8th last night. He didn’t go to Will Ohman, and he didn’t go to Guillermo Mota. He went straight to Jonathan Broxton to close out the game. And this is why I ask, “good thing or bad thing?” (And yes, I’m typing furiously so I can post this before something big happens, either good or bad.)
It’s a good thing because this is the kind of situation you should go to Jonathan Broxton in. Forget the “closer” title; he’s the best reliever you have, and for far, far too long we’ve seen managers blow games by putting in subpar relievers in pressure 8th inning situations, while waiting for a clean inning (no one on base) for their closer in the 9th. Far too often, games are won and lost by lesser members of the pen before the closer even has a chance. So, this is the right call by Torre…
Unless it’s a bad thing because he’s not doing it for the reasons I mentioned above, but because he simply has no trust in any of the other members of the pen.
It’s the right call, but I can’t tell if it’s for the right reasons. Thoughts?
(Also, regardless of the reasons Broxton came in, why didn’t Torre double-switch? Broxton is now up 4th in the 9th inning, which means if anyone gets on, Broxton’s going to have to hit, since I can’t imagine anyone else is coming in to pitch. Since Manny batted in the 8th, it’s a perfect situation – put in Pierre to play left, because it’s unlikely Manny gets another at-bat, so having him out there on defense is of no help.)