Print and Go Back ESPN.com: SweetSpot [Print without images]

Tuesday, April 6, 2010
Mariners win despite odd choice of reliever


Yes, the Mariners beat the A's last night. But this is 2010 and we've got bloggers like Dave Cameron who can't help seeing the killer UV rays in each beam of sunlight ...


I need to get organized and start a list: Silly Things That Managers Need to Stop Doing Before They Lose Too Many Games, with this being the first entry. I don't mean using low ERA/high FIP pitchers in key situations; managers are never going to stop doing that. I mean using Sean White this way, specifically.

We shouldn't have to tell Wakamatsu this. When White was advancing through the minors, with each step (roughly speaking) his strikeout-to-walk ratio got lower and his ERA got higher. His ERA in Double-A was 4.30, and in Triple-A it was 5.21.

He was a starting pitcher in those days. Some pitchers just aren't good enough to start in the majors, but thrive (relatively speaking) when given relief chores. Regrettably, that doesn't seem to be the case with White, who turns 29 in a few weeks. He's pitched exactly 100 innings in the majors as a reliever, and in those 100 innings he's struck out 44 hitters. That's viable only if you've got a great sinker (check) and great control (no check). White's also walked 40 hitters.

Not to be all simplistic or anything, but the math just doesn't work. For White, it never has worked. Managers love pitchers who throw low-90s sinkers, and they should. But if the results aren't there, at some point you have to just figure maybe the sinker isn't quite enough. Keep an eye on White's role. It's going to be tight in the American League West this season.