The Colorado Rockies lost to the Washington Nationals on Wednesday night, in part, because Manager Walt Weiss went by the book. For those of you who do not know, the book is an unwritten set of rules that too many managers follow to the letter. The loyalty to that book got the Rockies beat and it will continue to if Weiss is stubborn enough to abide by it.
It would take forever to list all of the unwritten rules in this imaginary piece of garbage, but here are two that contributed to the Rockies 14th loss in their past 16 games.
The first one is pitch count, teams and managers swear by these things and the Rockies are the worst offenders in the game. Teams put pitchers on pitch counts with the idea of limiting the wear and tear on their arms. It’s great in theory but there are far more arm injuries today than they were 30 and 40 years ago. It’s more likely that pitchers are not taking enough down time in the offseason; too many people believe that throwing year round is the way to go.
That argument is for another day, however. Back to the latest Rockies loss, pitcher Tyler Matzek was pitching well and was locked in a 3-3 game in the seventh inning. Matzek was at the 90 pitch mark as he started the inning but it sure didn’t look like he was laboring when he struck out Bryce Harper on a nasty slider.
This is when the book got in the way of common sense and sent the Rockies to another loss. Instead of leaving Matzek, who was cruising, Weiss decides the pitch count is too high. Too high? If it’s too high after one hitter in the inning, then why did the Rockies send him out to start the inning in the first place? If Weiss knew he was going to pull him after one hitter, then just go to the bullpen and let a reliever start fresh.
There’s a second rule that Weiss followed, however and it worked in concert with the pitch count rule on Wednesday night. Weiss decided that he wanted a right handed pitcher to face right handed hitter, Ian Desmond. Enter Matt Belisle who like most of the Rockies bullpen has been terrible this season.
The result of these moves that followed the logic of the baseball book, a Desmond homerun on the first pitch from Belisle. The Rockies went onto lose 4-3 with that homerun being the difference in the game.
Every manager in the majors is addicted the whole matchup thing when it comes to pitchers and hitters. They want left handed pitches to face left handed hitters and vice versa. It would be silly to take the position stating that it’s a flawed strategy because it’s not. The numbers prove that it is more difficult for a left-handed hitter to hit a left-handed pitcher, but there should also be room for common sense.
Common sense should have told Weiss that Matzek had a better chance of getting Desmond out throwing with either arm as opposed to bringing in Belisle. I’m not saying the Rockies should let Matzek throw 130 pitches but he was only at 95 when he was pulled, and was still effective.
If Weiss is smart, he will do whatever it takes to stay out of that bullpen because it is brutal. Matzek gave him that choice on Wednesday night and Weiss chose to be loyal to the book.
If the Rockies are going to pull out of this swoon and save any kind of face from this horrific season, then Weiss is going to have to think outside the box. That means managing with your head and your instincts, rather than some mythical book. It’s a novel concept but managing by the book is going to lead to more losses for the Rockies, and they certainly don’t need any help in that department.