Down 4 runs to the potent Washington Nationals in the 5th inning, with runners at first and second with no one out, Mike Matheny elected to let Jaime Garcia hit for himself.
This implies that Garcia will be back out to pitch at least the 6th inning, and face the rest of the Nats order a for a third time.
But the third time through an opposition’s batting order shows distinct advantages to the hitters. The more times a hitter sees a pitcher the better…and of course the pitcher’s gas tank is no longer full:
A look at Jaime Garcia’s own stats shows he’s not immune:
So back to Saturday’s pivotal 5th inning, which opened with singles from
Miguel Ruben Tejada and Kolten Wong.
THE CARDINALS DONATED AN OUT TO THE NATIONALS.
Garcia’s “successful” bunt–for which he received high fives–reduced the Cardinals run expectancy of 1.376 (2nd & 3rd, 1 out) from 1.437 (1st & 2nd, 0 out).
Yes, this bunt does increase St. Louis’ chances of scoring ONE run…from 0.643 to 0.698, but it decreases their ability to score multiple runs.
That’s important when it’s 4 to nothing.
They say “If you play for one, that’s all you’ll get,” and that’s what the Cardinals got one sac fly later.
4-1, end of 5th.
Why not pinch hit Steven Piscotty there? Saving him for later? There’s hardly a guarantee of a higher leverage situation than 2-on, 0-out with the top of the order on deck.
So to summarize, Matheny passed on a 302/361/500 hitter for a free out from a 151/181/193 hitter that reduces the team’s expected output, so the latter can go back out and pitch less effectively than he had previously.
Compare Garcia’s 3rd time through 288/341/421 to many relievers’ numbers their 1st time facing a batter in a game:
Garcia’s 3rd: 288/341/421
Siegrist’s 1st: 194/290/319
Broxton’s 1st: 227/305/336
Oh’s 1st: 116/224/140
Maness’ 1st: 286/321/417
While Maness’ numbers aren’t much superior to Garcia’s at that juncture, they do come paired with the opportunity to hit Piscotty with two runners on base.
It’s a value play.
And Mike Matheny doesn’t properly value value.