Monday, October 26, 2009

Leverage, baby, Leverage

When Mariano Rivera began to warm in the seventh inning last night, there were a variety of reactions. Some liked the move, some did not, and I admit that, at first, I was a little worried--what if something happened, Rivera pitched two innings, the Yankees lost the game and then Rivera wasn't able to pitch a Game Seven?

Fortunately, I soon came to my senses, and remembered that I do believe in the concept of use-the-best-reliever-in-highest-leverage, as this is exactly what Girardi did last night.

In the top of the eighth inning, in a game that was still a two-run score, Girardi went with his best reliever to get the top--and then the meat--of the Angels' batting order: Figgins-Abreu-Hunter-Guerrerro-Morales.

Just as recently as Game 5, Phil Hughes struggled against that same part of the lineup, unable to get the one out he needed, and as big a Robertson fan as I am--and I'm a big one--when you have the option to go to Rivera, you take it.

Now, according to Fangraphs, the fourth inning in which the Yankees scored their first three runs was the highest-leveraged situation of the game, but at that time the starter was still pitching, and, well, ideally you don't remove a starter in the fourth inning.

Still, as the graph indicates, the leverage situation in the eighth inning was still much higher than that in the ninth.

The Yankees, last night, employed Mariano Rivera in the most effective way that they could. How is the mood repaying them?

The team's off to their fortieth World Series.


Stay tuned for more World Series/Turnpike Series goodies. I've got somehwere to be this afternoon, but plan on a Live Chat Tuesday evening, round 7.30. I will post a reminder tomorrow.