In winning the ALCS against the Tigers, Rangers pitchers issued 22 walks in six games. None of those batters who walked came around to score.
In losing the World Series to the Cardinals, Rangers pitchers walked 41 batters in seven games. 11 of those hitters came around to score. As did two of the batters they hit with pitches.
In the fifth inning Friday, the Cardinals upped their lead from one run to three runs thanks to the following sequence: walk, HBP, groundout, intentional walk, walk, HBP.
The Rangers lost this series because too many of their pitchers couldn’t find the strike zone. The 41 walks were a new World Series record, one more than the Marlins issued in winning the 1997 championship. C.J. Wilson, who is probably going to get about $75 million as a free agent this winter, set another record by issuing 19 walks in 28 innings over the course of the postseason.
Wilson, of course, was the biggest culprit in the World Series, walking 11 in 12 1/3 innings. Alexi Ogando issued seven in 2 2/3 innings. Scott Feldman, the goat in the fifth inning tonight, had six walks in five innings. Closer Neftali Feliz walked four in 3 2/3 innings.
Derek Holland, who, ironically enough, was the Rangers’ most inconsistent pitcher during the regular season, was about the team’s only hurler to hold it together against the Cardinals. He had two walks in 10 1/3 innings.
Too bad he was the one of the Rangers’ four starters not to get two starts in the series.
The Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.
In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.
The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.
Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”
It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.
It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.