First of all, I am sorry for my long absence between blog posts. Final exams and the Canadiens have consumed my time.
I was planning on writing a post about how the Nationals are riddled by minor injuries to Ryan Zimmerman, Willie Harris, and Ivan Rodriguez. Then, Brian Bruney came into the game against the Cubs in the bottom of the 9th inning and proceeded to walk the leadoff batter. The batter, by the way, was Alfonso Soriano, he of the .326 career on-base percentage. Few things in baseball aggravate me more than a leadoff walk by the pitcher.
Bruney then faced Koyie Hill, who was pinch-hitting for Geovany Soto (a move which I don’t quite understand, even if Hill is a better bunter). Hill bunted into a fielder’s choice but was almost aided by Bruney’s throw which nearly sailed into center field (I am relying on Charlie and Dave’s description on the radio here).
So, naturally, Bruney is rewarded with a second inning of work. Keep in mind that Tyler Clippard, far and away the team’s best relief pitcher, has pitched one inning in three days. The tenth inning went like this: Ryan Theriot singles, Jeff Baker strikes out swinging, Derrek Lee walks on four pitches, and Marlon Byrd singles (on a pop-up between the right fielder and second baseman). That sequence of events set up a bases loaded, one out, bottom of the 10th inning situation in a tie game. Up to the plate stepped Aramis Ramirez, who, entering the game, was sporting a .220 wOBA. There is really only one option for the pitcher in this situation: throw strikes. Ramirez isn’t stupid enough to chase a pitch out of the zone, and a walk ends the game anyway. Predictably, Bruney threw four straight balls to end the game.
Quick digression: to be fair to Bruney, the last two pitches were very close and could have gone either way. The 2-0 was a fastball at the knees, and the 3-0 was a fastball at the belt. Either Greg Gibson had late dinner reservations or he didn’t think Bruney deserved a close call. Both options seem viable.
Bruney has made 10 appearances and has given up a run in four of them. This is not a terrible percentage. However, Bruney’s WPA now stands at -0.319. Maybe relievers get the raw end of the deal because when they pitch well, their WPA does not increase much, but if they give up the lead, their WPA takes a big hit. My biggest issue with Bruney, though, is that he has walked 11 batters in 9 2/3 innings. Sadly, this is not a new establishment. In his career, he has walked 6.3 batters per nine innings. His strikeout to walk ratio is a meager 1.38.
Brian Bruney stinks, and it is about time that Mike Rizzo realizes that. If the Nationals are going to put crap on the field, at least put out crap that hasn’t proven itself to be unworthy of a major league job.
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Written by Sam Diament