McLaren’s Bullpen Not Old Enough
From the Times today:
“The mind-set’s so much different because we don’t have guys in those roles,” manager John McLaren said after the defeat, in front of 14,429 fans at Camden Yards, evened his club’s record at 2-2. “Usually, in that situation you think about [Sean] Green, but he has to go back [further in the bullpen]. If you go to him too early, you’re going to need him [later]. And if you need him, you don’t have him.”
“I think when your big boy goes out, it’s got more of an impact,” McLaren said of Putz. “I don’t know if one guy can replace him, to be honest with you.
McLaren later hinted that his team’s experiment with an 11-man pitching staff might soon be over. Not as quickly as tonight’s game, but soon.
“It’s something we’re going to have to talk about,” he said. “We have talked about it.”
If there’s one undeniable fact about John McLaren’s managerial tendencies, it’s that he absolutely craves experience in every single situation. More than talent, ability, matchups, logic, or reason, McLaren is most comfortable when he can go to a player who has performed some specific task in the past.
Right now, his bullpen is one of the least experienced in the majors, and it’s freaking him out. Four days into the season, and he’s already talking about how he doesn’t have the options that he wants, and it’s a given that the team will be back to having 12 pitchers on the staff within a few days. Last night, he obviously didn’t want to go to Cha Seung Baek down by one, but he felt like he had to, in order to save Sean Green for the later innings.
Well, can I just point something out here? The Mariners have played four games in five days since the season started. Ryan-Rowland Smith has thrown seven pitches to three batters. Mark Lowe has thrown nine pitches to three batters. In four games, with an off day to boot, Lowe and Rowland-Smith have combined to throw 16 pitches, and we’re talking about the team not having options in the bullpen?
Perhaps it’s not a lack of options, but it’s the fact that McLaren doesn’t like the options he has? Faced with four lefties coming up in the bottom of the 9th against Texas on Wednesday, with a three run lead, Ryan Rowland-Smith wasn’t even considered for the job. Why? No experience pitching in the 9th inning. Clearly, he couldn’t be trusted to get out a bunch of LH hitters who suck eggs against left-handed pitchers – he’s just not old enough. Or something.
There’s no question the injury to Putz weakens the bullpen. Rather than react to the situation by adapting to the talent on the roster and utilizing it in the best way possible to help the bullpen succeed, McLaren is instead choosing to whine that he’s stuck with a bunch of inexperienced kids that he doesn’t trust. Note that, in his mind, the lack of trust is the kids’ fault, not his own.
With Green, O’Flaherty, Lowe, and Rowland-Smith, you have four solid relievers on this staff. If you can’t figure out how to use them efficiently enough to get through a single game against Baltimore after an off day, why on earth should we believe that you’re qualified to run a major league ballclub?
I’ll even make it easy for you. Rowland-Smith and Lowe can both get RH and LH hitters out – use them when the other team has a balanced mix of hitters coming up. Green and O’Flaherty are better against same handed hitters, so try to use them when you have a run of RH or LH hitters coming up if you can. You can’t get through the season by assuming that your entire bullpen is incapable of succeeding, so give them a chance. I know you wish you had your precious Rick White or Chris Reitsma around to blow the game, but you don’t, so try winning with the youngsters instead.