Giants Talk: Analyzing Bochy’s Decisions in Game 2


At 26-years-old, you could say that Hunter Strickland is an experienced rookie. This is an oxymoron, but it goes without saying that Strickland – who’s just a few years away from gray hairs – has more experience than the average first-year hurler. While this is his first season in the big leagues, Strickland has pitched in Double A since 2008; he’s familiar with competitive baseball.

But is it worth testing his moxie in the World Series?

For me, history is hard to ignore.

The Giants – and most teams throughout baseball history – struggle in the sixth inning. Their team E.R.A. was 3.50 this season. When analyzing just the sixth inning, this figure skyrockets to 4.33.

Most of this is due to familiarity, as the sixth inning is typically the third time through the batting order for the opposing offense. A pitcher’s bag of tricks has emptied out by this point.

Next: What's Wrong with Hunter Strickland?

Jake Peavy was brilliant through five innings yesterday, but after allowing a leadoff single to Lorenzo Cain and a walk to Eric Hosmer to open the sixth inning, change was needed.

Bruce Bochy called on Jean Machi for clean-up duty, but the numbers suggest that he should have looked elsewhere. Machi is excellent without base runners, but is a different pitcher when runners are on base: Batters hit .250 against Machi in these situations.

While far from terrible, this figure insinuates that trouble is on the horizon.

And trouble it was. Billy Butler hammered a belt-high fastball into left field and the momentum – and the scoreboard as well – shifted in favor of the Royals.

Bochy then called upon Javier Lopez  to settle the calamitous situation, and like he so often does, he took care of business.

Alex Gordon popped out, and the tide began to shift. Still, with two runners on (at this point, Terrance Gore was running for Butler) and only one out, quality pitching was needed if the inning was to culminate without further damage. 

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Enter Strickland, the demonstrative 100 M.P.H. hurler that he is.

Strickland was excellent in Game 1, prompting Bochy to believe that he could finish the inning and maintain a one-run deficit. Also, the four times Strickland inherited runners this postseason he slammed the door shut without allowing a run.

I understand Bochy’s thought process, but here’s my problem: Strickland has minimal experience at the Major League level. He pitched just seven times after being called up in September. While he didn’t allow a run, it was only a matter of time before he experienced a human moment.

This moment came just seconds later, and at a crucial junction in the game.

Salvador Perez doubled in Hosmer and Gore, and suddenly the Giants were down 5-2. Omar Infante then stepped up to the plate and creamed a 97 M.P.H. fastball into the left field Bullpen. The score was 7-2, and for all intents and purposes, the Giants were done. 

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  • I’m fine with Bochy’s confidence, but I firmly believe Strickland should have stayed in the ‘pen, and for more than a couple reasons.

    Strickland’s confidence never seems to waver, but one has to assume that after allowing four home runs in five postseason appearances, the thought of a meltdown must’ve been rattling around in his head as he took the mound yesterday.

    Also, there’s a bevy of experienced postseason winners waiting in the bullpen, primarily Jeremy Affeldt and Tim Lincecum. Bochy stayed away from Affeldt because Perez and Infante are right-handed hitters, but looking past Lincecum was a mistake.

    Part of Lincecum’s success in the postseason is due to his ability to keep hitters guessing. He might not always be on, but when he is, he represents a challenge due to the pitches in his arsenal. His postseason E.R.A is a measly 2.40 over 56.1 innings. This isn’t the ‘Big Time Timmy Jim’ of 2010, but it is still a talented pitcher who knows how to win when it counts.

    And while Affeldt was bypassed because he’s a lefty, his postseason E.R.A is a ridiculous 1.01. Food for thought.

    Bochy doesn’t make many mistakes, and rest assured he understands the error of his ways. Being said, Strickland was not the right call in the sixth inning of yesterday’s game. He’s better when he can challenge batters without worrying about the consequences.

    Agree or disagree Giants’ fans? Let me know below.