Dear Pitching Coaches: There is a good reason to make this kind of move -- and it has nothing to do with making a mockery of the game, as some of you suggested.
To get everyone up to speed: On Wednesday the Mud Hens trailed Louisville 12-0 entering the ninth inning. To pitch the ninth, manager Phil Nevin used Brad Davis -- one of the team's catchers. That's right, a catcher.
Click here to read Wednesday's game story, which includes a look at how Davis did.
Many of the tweets were in response to the early struggles Davis had in throwing strikes -- he threw his first 12 pitches for balls to load the bases with nobody out. By the way, all the people who were embarrassed that Davis wasn't throwing strikes seemed to ignore the fact that Davis was throwing in the high 80s to start the inning, and still threw in the low 80s when he seemed to "let up" to get the ball over the plate.
This is the first time this season Nevin used a "non-pitcher" to pitch ... and just the third time in his three seasons as Toledo manager.
Why do it? Simply put, it's to save the bullpen. This happens in lopsided games where two conditions occur: first, the game isn't in doubt (and trailing 12-0 certainly meets that requirement), and second, there is a fear of burning out the bullpen.
In Wednesday's game the bullpen already had covered three innings. On Tuesday the bullpen had covered four innings.
And today, my understanding is that Derek Hankins will have his start in Columbus "skipped." Click here to read that story.
That means RHP Robbie Weinhardt will make a "spot" start out of the bullpen -- and the bullpen will have to cover all nine innings.
In short, the bullpen is about to be taxed. If a manager can make a move that limits the work the bullpen has to do, especially at this point in the season, he does it. Hence Nevin using Davis on Wednesday makes sense.
Thanks for writing. John
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