Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim closer Huston Street has pitched in the majors for 11 seasons for four different seasons. He’s been a Capital C Closer in all of those seasons for all of those teams. Needless to say, he’s been around the block and is very comfortable in his role as he approaches 300 career saves.
During Friday’s Angels-Mariners game, Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon used newly minted closer Carson Smith in the eighth inning of a 3-1 game because Mike Trout and Albert Pujols were coming to the plate.
Both Trout and Pujols reached, but Smith forced Johnny Giavotella to ground into an inning ending double play. In the ninth, banished ex-closer Fernando Rodney came on and finished the Angels off to record the save, his first since May 29th.
Needless to say, it was a decision that left many fans that are clueless about leverage confused. Huston Street wasn’t impressed, and has no desire to end up in the situation Smith did.
“I’ll retire if that ever happens,” Street said. “If they ever tell me, ‘Oh, we’re gonna start using you in these high-leverage situations.’ … All right, good. You now can go find someone else to do that, because I’m going home.”
Street also apparently doesn’t know what a high leverage situation actually is.
“It’s too hard; it’s too hard to know what’s expected of you,” Street said. “Those bullpens all wear down. You’ll start seeing them give up bloop hits, get unlucky — it’s a direct correlation to the fact that guys are unsure going into that game, or they’re worn out. Because they got up in the fifth one day, the ninth the next day, and the seventh and the eighth and the ninth the next day — because they were all high-leverage situations.”
“There’s too many holes in the theory for me personally. I can’t stand it. I think it’s an idea that’s built on paper but doesn’t work in real life. That’s really what it is to me.”
Winning is the primary objective of the game, so using your best reliever in the most crucial spot is advisable. Which situation would you rather have your best pitcher in – bottom of the eighth, up one, third-place hitter up with two on, or bottom of the ninth, up one, sixth-place hitter up?
If you allow runs in the eighth, there’s a very real possibility you won’t *get* to the ninth for your Capital C Closer to pick up the save. Why lose a winnable game because you didn’t use your best players and were just managing to a stat? It seems silly to me.