Bullpen Decisions in Walk-Off Losses

The Mariners have fallen victim to walk-off losses what seems like countless times.  Whenever they play in Chicago, Baltimore, or Washington D.C. I just count on the game to be a walk-off loss.  This season has brought even more of these.  As of the afternoon on August 20th, the Mariners had suffered 10 walk-off losses in 124 games.  Over 8 percent of the Mariners games have ended in a walk-off loss this season.  Furthermore, walk-off losses can only happen on the road, although the M’s might find a way to make it happen otherwise.  There have been 61 road games with 10 walk-off losses.  Over 16 percent of Mariners road games have ended in a walk-off, and not the fun Zoolander kind. Seattle sports…

Eric Wedge (and Robbie Thompson) aren’t exactly known for their bullpen usage.  With this in mind, I went on a journey to find out in what situations these walk-off losses happened (pitcher vs. batter match-ups).

Below, you will find the score of each walk-off loss, a little summary of what happened, who was pitching, hitting, and left in the bullpen.  I will also add a little bit of analysis.  Of course, my research isn’t perfect.  There were days when some bullpen arms weren’t available and I don’t have all of that information.  I’ve tried to make my analysis as fair as possible.

Walk-off loss #1:  April 7, – Chicago White Sox 4, Mariners 3

The Matchup: RH Kameron Loe vs. RH Dayan Viciedo
Who Was Left In The Bullpen:  RH Tom Wilhelmsen, LHP Charlie Furbush, RHP Stephen Pryor
Summary:  A walk-off solo dinger.
Analysis:  This wasn’t all that bad of a decision.  Pryor had pitched the two nights before so I’m guessing he wasn’t available.  Furbush wouldn’t have made sense as a lefty.  Wilhelmsen probably should have been in the game but the Mariners like to keep their closer available.  I don’t agree with this but this decision wasn’t atrocious other than the fact that Kameron Loe was bad and shouldn’t have been on the team.  Robert Andino and Brendan Ryan did start this game at SS and 2B though…

Walk-off loss #2:  May 17th – Cleveland Indians 6, Mariners 3

The Matchup: LH Lucas Luetge vs. LH Jason Kipnis
Who Was Left In The Bullpen:  Not many guys available, everyone had thrown the day before.
Summary: 3-run walk-off dinger.
Analysis:  Not a bad process here aside from maybe leaving Luetge in too long.  You want the lefty on lefty matchup and Luetge is typically good against lefties.  Furbush had already pitched and Perez had pitched over an inning the night before.  Luetge was probably the best option to pitch against Kipnis.  Wilhelmsen (arguably the best reliever at the time) did not pitch in this game.

Walk-off loss #3:  May 18th – Cleveland Indians 5, Mariners 4
The Matchup:  RH Yoervis Medina vs. RH Mark Reynolds
Who Was Left In the Bullpen:  Wilhelmsen, Furbush, Luetge, Loe (I think)
Summary: Jesus Montero forgot to keep his foot on the plate and the winning run scored as he pulled his foot off of it.  You can’t make this stuff up.
Analysis:  Probably the right match-up.  Perez was bad before Medina came in to face Reynolds.  It was a really exciting game aside from the horrible ending!  Medina is a good guy to face Reynolds.  Cleveland is so stupid.  Wilhelmsen, again, wasn’t used.  Instead they went to a rookie in his first week in the majors.

Walk-off loss #4:  May 20th – Cleveland Indians 10, Mariners 8
The Matchup: LH Charlie Furbush vs. Yan Gomes
Who Was Left In the Bullpen: LH Lucas Luetge, RH Farquhar (maybe)
Summary:  Wilhelmsen blew the save in the 9th while dropping the final out at first.  Then, Furbush came in for the 10th and gave a up a 3-run walk-off dinger.
Analysis:  Many people believed he should have come out for the 10th because he was pitching well, hadn’t pitched in 4 days and a few righties were coming up.  I’m one of those people.  Leaving Furbush in to face righties was dumb.  This may have been the worst decisions of the walk-offs, so far.  Andino and Ryan started this game at SS and 2B.

Walk-off loss #5:  May 29th – San Diego Padres 3, Mariners 2
The Matchup:  RH Yoervis Medina vs. LH Will Venable
Who Was Left In the Bullpen:  All of the lefties
Summary:  Wilhelmsen blew the save in the 9th and Venable hit a walk-off single in the 10th, after loading the bases and not getting an out.
Analysis:  This one is bad.  Medina faced 3 lefties (2 were switch-hitters, although they have better splits from the left side) and one righty.  Furbush had pitched the night before but there was no sign of Perez, for some reason.  Medina to start the inning may have been fine but he should have been out after the first hit.  The pitcher spot was coming up in the batting order, which may have caused Wedge to not change guys.  This is a constant in the bullpen decision-making: playing for the hypothetical instead of putting yourself in the best situation right now.

Walk-off loss #6:  June 1st – Minnesota Twins 5, Mariners 4
The Matchup: 
 RH Wilhelmsen vs. S Ryan Doumit
Who Was Left in the Bullpen:  RH Noesi, RH Farquhar, RH Medina
Summary:  Wilhelmsen walked 3 guys and then gave up a walk-off triple.
Analysis:  Managers have a way with sticking with a closer in the 9th, no matter what.  I don’t blame Wedge for this philosophy but why does it exist?  Wilhelmsen should not have been in the game after walking 3 straight guys.  This one is a baseball problem, not a Mariners problem.  By the way, that was 5 walk-off losses in 15 days.  There was also a homestand in that stretch.

Walk-off loss #7 :  July 31st – Boston Red Sox 5, Mariners 4
The Matchup:  LH Luetge vs. LH Stephen Drew
Who Was Left In the Bullpen:  RH Wilhelmsen
Summary:  Drew hit a walk-off single in the 15th inning.
Analysis:  Luetge had thrown 2 innings before coming out for the 15th and he almost made it through that inning, as well.  He had also thrown the night before.  He seemed a bit fatigued.  Wilhelmsen hadn’t pitched in either game.  I know the options are limited in the 15th inning but I don’t know why you don’t put your best pitcher out there.  Or put in a starter.

Walk-off loss #8:  August 1st – Boston Red Sox 8, Mariners 7
The
 Matchup:  LH Perez vs. S Daniel Nava
Who Was Left In the Bullpen: LH Luetge, RH Farquhar
Summary:  Felix is awesome.  7-2 heading into the 9th.  Wilhelmsen sucks, doesn’t get an out.  Wrong pitcher is called in by Thompson (accidentally called for Perez instead of Medina).  The wrong pitcher gives up runs.  Medina isn’t good either.  This one sucked.
Analysis:  The Mariners meant to do the right thing and accidentally failed at that.  Medina was supposed to be called in to face Victorino and Pedroia.  Instead Perez was called in and was bad and then Medina was left in too long due to the accident.  This is a dumb rule in baseball and a brain fart by Thompson.  It was an awful game too.

Walk-off loss #9:  August 14th – Tampa Bay Rays 5, Mariners 4
The Matchup:  
RH Farquhar vs. LH Matt Joyce
Who Was Left In the Bullpen:  LH Luetge, RH Capps, LH Perez
Summary:  A leadoff triple and then a walk-off single.
Analysis:  A few bloops and one hard hit led to a walk-off.  Sure, they could have taken Farquhar out to play the match-ups but he’d been pretty good  and, as I’ve said, managers stick with the closers.  This one isn’t too bad.

Walk-off loss #10:  August 19th – Oakland A’s 2, Mariners 1
The Matchup:  RH Capps vs. LH Brandon Moss
Who Was Left In the Bullpen:  Everyone but Furbush.
Summary:  Capps gave up a walk-off ding-donger to a lefty.
Analysis:  This was really stupid.  Capps has been the worst guy out of the pen against lefties.  He faces one in the bottom of the 9th (with Perez and Luetge available) and gives up a dinger.  This is one of the least defensible.  Luckily, no one really cared because the Mariners fell to 10 games under .500.

Conclusion:  Yes, the Mariners bullpen is terrible.  Some of these losses are inevitable no matter how good your bullpen.  But, some of the decisions that were made were pretty ridiculous and a few of these outcomes probably could have been avoided.  In-game management has been a struggle this year and, while that is not the only job of a manager, Wedge and Thompson should be held accountable for some of these decisions.

- Andrew

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  1. Pingback: SoDo Memo – Mariner Links - 30 August - SoDo Mojo - A Seattle Mariners Fan Site - News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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