by Mike Z
/RANT ALERT - hide the small children
I was able to watch the last two innings of the Pirates-Astros game as a study break, and did I make a mistake with that. Unless it's the pitcher hitting, I very rarely agree with bunting people over. ESPECIALLY when you're taking the bat out the hands of your best hitter.
In the 8th inning last night, the Pirates were down 3-2, with the pitcher's spot due to hit. Wilton (yes, Wilton) Lopez has relieved Wandy Rodriguez. Xavier Paul pinch hits and takes a walk on 4 pitches. So with a pitcher that isn't hitting the strike zone and McCutchen coming up, Hurdle decides he wants to just hand them an out. It doesn't matter if he's slumping or not. Considering his statistics as well as Lopez, do you want to know what it did for the Pirates? It DECREASED their odds of winning by 4%. Who cares if Paul is on 2nd with 1 out? I don't know about you, but I'd rather have first and second with no out from a single/walk/error, or if he hits a double, the game could likely be tied.
It doesn't matter if bunting the man over is tradition strategy. I understand doing away with the sac bunt is more of a sabermetric thought process, and I probably wouldn't have as much of a problem if a position player like Cedeno is bunting, but this is inexcusable to me. Hurdle's showing so far he has no problem having anybody on the roster bunt. I think he's done a lot of things right this year, but if he keeps this up, I'll (almost) want John Russell back.
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