The Tampa Bay Rays manager made a controversial choice in regard to Blake Snell during last night’s World Series finale, and it was so bad that former Angels’ ace Jered Weaver called him out for it.
The Los Angeles Angels, both new and old, were sitting at home like the rest of us and watching the World Series unfold on Tuesday night. For everyone viewing on their couches, it seemed like the series was destined for a seventh game, with Rays ace Blake Snell cruising and dispatching Dodgers left and right.
Then the inexplicable happened!
With just 73 pitches to his name and nine strikeouts registered through 5.1 innings of work, Snell was in complete control of the Los Angeles lineup. However, after allowing just his second hit of the game, Rays manager Kevin Cash made the rash decision to pull Snell from the game and go to his vaunted bullpen.
The strategy had worked well for the manager all season, but with Snell cutting up the top of the Dodgers order through his first two times through the lineup and plenty of gas still in the tank, many questioned why Cash didn’t stick with his ace. That included former Angels’ ace Jered Weaver.
As Weaver pointed out, Snell was the ace of the staff and in a must-win game with him dealing, you have to ride him to victory. It was indeed a terrible decision.
Nick Anderson replaced Snell and promptly surrendered a double to Mookie Betts, then threw a wild pitch to score Austin Barnes from third to tie the game. Betts came home with the go-ahead run three pitches later on a fielder’s choice to first, reminiscent of his game one play. Betts would add an insurance run with a solo home run in the bottom of the 8th to seal it.
Weaver knows a thing or two about wanting the ball in big moments as an ace. As a member of the Angels, he pitched in four separate postseasons, starting four games and coming out of the bullpen three times. The latter included two gutsy appearances in the 2009 ALCS, where he appeared in both games five and six as a reliever after pitching five innings in a game three win as a starter.
Cash’s decision fit the tee as to how the Rays managed their staff all season, relying heavily on a bullpen that was lights out all year. However, this was a classic case of a manager overthinking the situation instead of letting his pitcher pass the eye test.
The decision was oddly reminiscent of Pete Carroll’s bungle in Super Bowl XLIV. With the Seahawks marching down the field on the back of unstoppable running back Marshawn Lynch, coach Pete Carroll opted to try and trick Patriots coach Bill Belichick at the goal line. Instead of pounding it in with Lynch for the likely game-winning touchdown, Carroll opted to pass on the play. Malcolm Butler would pick off the pass and the Patriots would win the Super Bowl as a result.
While, yes, we are comparing football to baseball, the analogy holds true. Sometimes you just need to ride the guy that got you there and not try to overthink the situation.
Everyone viewing at home knew to stick with Snell. Jered Weaver knew you had to stick with Snell. Even Blake Snell knew you had to stick with Blake Snell.
The only guy in the room that didn’t was Kevin Cash, and he handed the Dodgers the World Series because of it.