Goatriders of the Apocalypse

You Be The Manager

I thought there was a great debate opportunity tonight. Here is the situation:

Carlos Zambrano finished the seventh inning having allowed one hit, one run, and two walks. At that point, he had thrown 105 pitches.

Carlos Zambrano was due to lead off the eighth inning. The score was tied 1-1 in Dodger Stadium.

Jon Koronka will be starting tomorrow's game, and the Cubs do not have an off day for the next eight days. The bullpen has thrown 6.2 innings in the last two games, but you have eight relievers currently on the roster, one of which will probably be sent down tomorrow to make room for Koronka on the active roster.

Do you pull Carlos Zambrano for a pinch hitter (who bats? your choices are Michael Barrett, Todd Hollandsworth, Jose Macias, Jerry Hairston Jr, and Enrique Wilson), or do you leave Zambrano in to bat for himself?

My answer will be in the comments tomorrow afternoon... I'd like to see your thoughts there too.

Jason R.

I was very surprised to see Carlos bat that inning. Personally, I would have taken him down for a pinch hitter, although I do not feel strongly about it. I just feel that, in a situation where you absolutely have to get a run, you can't waste any outs. I would have pinch hit Hairston and seen what he could do. I mean, you are only going to get one more inning out of Z anyway, and so why waste the AB?

However, I do see why he did it and I don't blame Dusty. Especially since we won.


At the time, I was pulling my hair out. I thought Dusty should have been really pushing for a run, and I also don't like pushing pitch counts unnecessarily. Fortunately, it worked out, but I think he could have used Wuertz or Borowski for one inning without ill effect. Of course, had he done that and the reliever had given up the go-ahead run, he would have been crucified.
Kind of a lose-lose situation for the manager. If Carlos has a poor start next time out, they'll (we'll) say he was overused.
I hope Dusty wasn't managing in fear of the press backlash, but I understand if he was trying to keep Carlos happy.
It worked out, he's a genius.


I would have pulled Zambrano, most likely for Hairston due to the highest OBP. I thought it was a bit much to ask of Zambrano to pitch another inning when the 7th was one of his hardest (if I remember correctly). These are the type games where Dusty gets those Pitcher Abuse Points up. Sure the 136 pitch game was bad but the real problem is being asked to go one more inning far too often. Was that one extra inning worth the possible rough outing next start. So I say pull him and allow him all the online time he can stand.


After a measly five game streak against fellow struggling teams, Dusty is now blameless and a genius. I love it: ridiculous AND pathetic!


The Measley Five Game winning streak also caps a 13 of 19 stretch.

As for my "You be the Manager" solution? Well, I probably would have pulled Carlos, but it would have been an extraordinarily tough decision, and I'm certainly not going to criticize Baker for leaving him in.

Basically, with a guy like Zambrano, you know he can go out and have a 20-30 pitch inning without giving up a run. So with 105 pitches at the beginning of the inning, I would have been uncomfortable with having him pitch more than ten pitches or so in the eighth.

I also think that we had the extra bullpen depth to absorb an extra inning last night.

Also entering into my decision was that we were playing in Los Angeles where a mistake pitch is not likely to end up in the seats, and so there is considerably more room for error than if you are playing at Wrigley with the wind blowing out.


It would be hard to pull a pitcher who's working on a one hitter. Sure, his pitch count was high, but Zambrano routinely throws in that range. Besides, a W is a W. Its nice to be over the .500 hump.

Jason Foley

I think leaving Zambrano in for the 8th inning was the right call. I don't think you can take out the Big Z when he has only given up one run. Unlike Wood or Prior, Zambrano has not shown any ill effects when going high pitch counts, as he routinely does so. Sure, we've won 5 games in a row against struggling teams, but they still count in the win column just as if we'd beaten the Cardinals. I'm excited because I've seen execution and cluth hitting durning the win streak. I mean, we won a game by manufacturing a run, and with pitching a defense!!!! How can that not be a good sign???


I sure would like to know how Zambrano pitches in the starts after he throws 120+ vs when he throws less. Does anyone know where I could find this kind of info?

Jason R.

The first place to look would be baseballprospectus.com. After that, a google search on baseballthinkfactory.org might yield something.

Jason R.

Actually, to answer your question...yes, Zambrano has seen ill affects after throwing 120+ pitches. I wen through the game logs and it turns out that in games after throwing 120+ pitches, Zambrano has compiled a 4.68 ERA while averaging just over 6 innings per outing. This ERA is obviously well below is career era (and slightly worse than average) and so I think one can say, yes, Zambrano is affected by throwing more than 120+ pitches in a start. I would argue that Zambrano (and all pitchers) should rarely be stretch beyond the 120+ pitch mark and it should only be done when necessary and for important games.

I realize that this is an arbitrary number and excludes all the 119 & 118 pitch games. Also, sample size caveats apply.

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