I don’t rail against the manager very often, because honestly the manager doesn’t have that great of an impact on the game. He sets a lineup, and he manages the bullpen. Everything else is on the players themselves, the GM who brought us these players, and the umpires – who are really more of a constant than a variable – who generally do a good job, but tend to fuck up more than robots would.
So, when Scott Servais does something dumb with his ONE JOB, I’m going to say something about it. Because Jesus Fucking Christ.
Top of the 8th inning, Mariners up 3-2. Paxton did a pretty good job, but let his pitch count get the better of him thanks to some bad home plate umpiring and a lack of command of his fastball. The combination of Nick Vincent and Scrabble got us to the 7th, and Tony Zych got us a couple outs into the 8th. He hit the leadoff hitter, though, and after getting the two outs, left-handed bat Kole Calhoun stepped to the plate. Lefty reliever James Pazos had been warming up since way back in the 7th inning (or maybe earlier, who can recall?), and was sufficiently ready to go. Makes perfect sense, no?
Apparently fucking not, as Scott Servais had the brilliant fucking idea of bringing in our closer to get the 4-out save.
Let’s start here. I think we all understand why someone would bring in a lefty reliever to face a lefty batter, but we’ll get to that in a minute. Scott Servais has this bug up his ass about getting Edwin Diaz more work. He’s a young guy and therefore his arm is ready for a bigger workload. People have taken this to mean that the Mariners are going to use Diaz like the Indians use Andrew Miller – not necessarily to get the final 3 outs of the ballgame, but to come in during the most important late-game situations, regardless of whether it’s a save situation or not. But, that’s false. Servais just has no confidence in this bullpen (because why should he?) and knows he’ll need to lean on the guys he can trust to work more than just the one inning per appearance. Diaz is still this team’s closer, but now he’s going to have to get more than three outs to get his saves. It’s still all catering to the save statistic, so this isn’t fresh or new thinking whatsoever!
Edwin Diaz has done nothing to deserve this type of confidence, by the way. Maybe if we were talking about Mariano Rivera in his prime, we could discuss bringing him in to work multiple innings. But, so far, Diaz hasn’t even worked a full season’s worth of games in the Majors yet! He won the closer job because his first month or so was electric (and Cishek really screwed the pooch), but guys know how to hit him now! He’s not throwing 100 mph anymore. He’s still wild, but not effectively wild like he was when the league was still getting to know him. And, quite frankly, he’s blown too many saves to be considered an elite closer. He’s no different than Fernando Rodney, Brandon League, Steve Cishek, David Aardsma, Tom Wilhelmsen, or any of these other jokers who have yet to be good for more than one season for the Mariners.
So, of course Edwin Diaz gave up the go-ahead 2-run homer to Kole Calhoun! And of course the Mariners tied it up in the bottom of the 9th to send it to extras! And OF COURSE James Pazos came into the game in the 11th inning – about 4 innings after he’d started warming up in the first place – and WOULDN’T YOU KNOW IT, the first batter he faced was the very same Kole Calhoun! Did he give up a homer to the man? NO! He struck him out! Because he’s a left-handed pitcher facing a left-handed batter, and that’s generally what tends to happen in those situations, SCOTT SERVAIS, YOU PUTZ!
Granted, Pazos would go on to give up two runs in the 11th inning to lose us the ballgame, but that’s not on him. If he were used properly, in the top of the 8th, when he was warmed up and fresh, his command may have been a little more on par with the rest of his appearances this season.
Also, not for nothing, but if Pazos was brought in for just Calhoun in the 8th inning, THAT WOULD’VE BEEN THE ONLY BATTER HE WOULD’VE FACED, BECAUSE HE WOULD HAVE STRUCK THAT MOTHERFUCKER OUT!
I have no idea what Diaz would’ve done if he’d just come in fresh for the 9th inning with no runners on base, but that’s a hypothetical for another time. In this universe, Scott Servais botched the fuck out of this one, and cost the Mariners a win they desperately needed.
Repeat after me: Edwin Diaz is NOT the be-all, end-all of this bullpen. He’s probably not all that much better than anyone else down there, if we’re being honest. His consistency leaves a lot to be desired. He’s trying to get away with just his natural gifts, and that’s not going to fly in the MLB, because those hitters have a lot of natural gifts too, and they tend to expose pitchers who throw it up there without knowing where it’s going.
God damn this season is frustrating as fuck.