Yesterday, Aug. 20, 2011 the New York Mets scored three runs off their good friend, Francisco Rodriguez in the eighth inning to take a 9-7 lead over the pennant-pretending Milwaukee Brewers.
Rodriguez pitched one complete inning, facing six batters. He retired three of them. The other three scored to erase the Brewers 7-6 lead.
The former Mets closer, facing his former teammates for the first time, was in line for a tough defeat, but the Mets bullpen came to the rescue.
The Brewers scored four times in the ninth inning to get Rodriguez off the hook. John Axford worked a scoreless ninth inning to preserve the win.
Not only did the Mets bullpen cost Bobby Parnell a possible win, it allowed official scorer Jordan Sprechman to continue the current trend among official scorers.
There is no way that Francisco Rodriguez should have been awarded the win. John Axford should have received his third win, not his 37th save.
Rule 10.17 c http://www.mlb.com/mlb/official_info/official_rules/foreword.jsp stated that “The official scorer shall not credit as the winning pitcher a relief pitcher who is ineffective in a brief appearance, when at least one succeeding relief pitcher pitches effectively in helping his team maintain its lead.
“In such a case, the official scorer shall credit as the winning pitcher the succeeding relief pitcher who was most effective, in the judgment of the official scorer.”
The comment on rule 10,17 c states
“The official scorer generally should, but is not required to, consider the appearance of a relief pitcher to be ineffective and brief if such relief pitcher pitches less than one inning and allows two or more to score.”
Francisco Rodriguez was certainly ineffective. He pitched one inning, but that is certainly not enough to overcome giving up three runs and the lead.
It was incumbent upon official scorer Sprechman to pay attention to the rulebook and not allow Rodriguez to receive his fifth win.
The occurrence is not unique, but it graphically illustrates how the number of wins a pitcher accumulates over a season and over a career is tenuous at best when evaluating him.
Even more significant is the fact that a save is an even less efficient statistic when evaluating closers.
A pitcher with a three run lead in the ninth can allow five of the eight batters he faces to reach base, with two of them scoring, and be credited with a save.
With the two runners on base and two outs, a relief pitcher with a three-run lead can walk the first batter he faces to load the bases, give up a two-run single and still receive a save if he retires the next hitter.
John Axford deserved a win, not a save, but in today’s game, the save will probably be more valuable than the win in contract talks.