Cody Allen blew a save last night. He blew it in just about as fantastic a fashion as possible – giving up a go-ahead grand slam to an outfielder with 31 career dongs on an 0-2 pitch.
It was bad.
Cody Allen isn’t.
Before last night, Cody had appeared in 16 games since the All-Star break. He struck out 23 batters in 16.1 innings. He allowed 1 earned run and issued just 3 free passes. AND he converted 6 of 6 save opportunities, if you’re into that sort of thing.
Since 2014, three relievers have struck out more batters than Cody Allen. Seven have posted a better K/9. He’s top 20 in K-BB% and FIP, top 10 in WAR. His curveball has the highest Pitch Value per Fangraphs by a margin of 4.5 – that same margin separates #2 from #s 6-7. Opponents are hitting .200 off him. In 197 games, he’s blown 11 saves. And again, if you’re into that sort of thing, he’s converted 81 of them.
But none of that is the point of this blog. The point of this blog is to talk about why I completely agree with how Tito has deployed his new toy, Andrew Miller, out of the bullpen since acquiring him at the trade deadline – as a stopper with no assigned inning.
Before we talk big picture, let’s touch on last night again quickly. Miller just flat out wasn’t available. He threw two innings the night before. Sure, he did it in just 16 pitches, but a multiple inning outing for a reliever is still a big deal. You get hot, come in, sit down the side, sit down for a half inning, come back out and get hot again before throwing the second inning. A one inning, 16 pitch outing is much different than a two inning, 16 pitch outing.
So two innings on Tuesday. His previous outing before that? Another 2 innings on Sunday, in which he threw 23 pitches.
So in three days, he pitched 4 innings and threw 39 pitches.
He went 2 innings for the Yankees exactly once this year before the trade. Four times in 2015.
So yeah, he was unavailable. And I really, honestly enjoy the people who argue that he should be able to throw basically any time we need him because “he used to be a starter.”
He hasn’t started a Major League Baseball game in five years. 1,863 days since he started a game. That’s like saying I should be able to have a kid today because I kept a Tamagotchi alive for six weeks in 1995.
Also, let’s not forget he was turned into a reliever in the first place for a reason. He was bad at doing something 5 years ago, he’s been really good since he stopped doing that, so let’s make him do less of what he’s been great at and more of what he stunk at? Air-tight logic.
Back to the big picture. Why do I agree with using Miller as a stopper? Same reason I agree with playing Abe Almonte while he continues to hit, even though he can’t help you in the playoffs. You don’t save something for a theoretical advantageous situation in the future when that situation might not occur if you don’t take care of business in the present.
Here are a handful of real-life examples to help get that idea across.
- You have a pet turtle that is dying.
Sweet, sweet Ralphie. He’s got a big old heart underneath that weathered shell. His birthday is coming up, but he might not make it. He’s got a terrible turtle disease and his days are numbered. He’s old, too, so it’s not like he has a whole lot of time to turn his health around.
Two grand and a couple of freight ships from China later, and you have the cure in your possession. Your plan was to save the cure and give it to him on his actual birthday as a present.
You walk down to his cage two days before his birthday and he’s turned over on his shell, gasping for air, fighting like hell to stay alive. You had already planned on locking the cure in as his birthday present, no matter what situations came up in the days leading up to it. But your present won’t mean shit to Ralphie when he’s swimming in the giant aquarium in the sky.
You give Ralphie the medicine before his birthday.
2. You get knocked out in dodgeball in 4th grade gym class.
It’s a 3 game series to see who is crowned the school champs. Winner doesn’t have to run warm up laps next week.
If a team is down to one player, and that player sinks a throw into the other team’s basketball hoop, they get to pick a player from their team to come back in. The catch is, a player can only be picked once in the entire 3 game series.
Your team loses the first game. You’re down 4 players to 1 in the second. Not bad, except for the fact that the player that’s still alive is only still in the game because he was cowering in the corner the whole time because it’s goddamn Stuart and he has the athletic ability of the worm your science teacher just dissected last period.
Stuart closes his eyes and hurls his arm violently forward, most certainly tearing his rotator cuff. Swish.
Should he bring in the player that gives them the best chance to win that game, even though that player won’t be available to be brought back in for game 3?
Game 3 doesn’t happen if Stuart doesn’t bring in Dallas, the best athlete in the class, to help win Game 2.
Stuart calls in Dallas.
3. You have one “Automatic 90% on an Exam” pass for your least favorite class.
It’s late in the semester. Your grades have been okay so far, but you need to do well on the final 2 tests in order to pass the class.
Thing is, the professor decides to make the second to last exam the day after Super Bowl Sunday. Which also happens to be your birthday. Which also happens to be the 21st birthday of your life.
You do your damnedest to prepare. Hours and hours spent in the library the week before. You even laminated your notes so they wouldn’t get ruined when someone inevitably destroys an entire side of beer pong cups trying to swat away a bounce and you’re studying in between games.
You miraculously make it to the test that day. “Name….name…..” You get the first question right, you’re pretty sure. Other than that? Not so much.
You can save your pass for the final exam.
If you fail this exam, the final exam won’t matter. You’ll have already failed the class.
You use your pass on the second to last exam, the day after the Super Bowl and your 21st birthday.
And these examples don’t even take into account how good Cody Allen is as an alternative, if you absolutely need to classify one pitcher as our “closer”. That’d be like you having an additional medicine for your turtle that guarantees him another 10 years, or if you had another kid on your dodgeball team that wasn’t as fast as Dallas but could light up a radar gun, or if you only needed to get like a 60% on the final exam to pass the class.
Bottom line – you don’t plan on saving something good for a later time, when that later time either won’t come or won’t matter if you don’t take care of the present.
KEEP THE CHIEF