Joe Maddon: “I think the bunt is an overrated play”

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The Rays are having trouble scoring runs. The Joe Maddon-led bunch entered this afternoon’s game with the Red Sox having scored 32 in nine games, the third-worst rate in the American League. The Rays managed just one more run in ten innings against Jon Lester and the Sox bullpen today.

In the top of the ninth inning, the Rays put runners on first and second with no outs. Most managers would bunt in that situation to put two runners in scoring position, but Maddon opted to let James Loney swing away. He eventually struck out, and Yunel Escobar and Ryan Roberts followed up with outs of their own. Asked after the game if he regretted his decision not to bunt, Maddon said:

“For that group of people out there that want guys to bunt all the time, you don’t know the outcome when you choose to do that,” Maddon said, of choosing not to bunt with two runners on base and no outs in the ninth inning, and again following a leadoff double in the 10th. “I think the bunt is an overrated play.”

Using the expected runs matrix at Baseball Prospectus (using 2012 data), runners on first and second with no outs yields 1.44 expected runs, while runners on second and third with one out yields 1.29 expected runs. Theoretically, one would slightly reduce run expectancy by bunting. However, the certainty of scoring that one run goes up. Furthermore, bunting creates a more realistic opportunity for production than letting Loney, who posted a .630 OPS last season, swing away. Though I, like Maddon, think that bunting is overrated in many circumstances, that was not one of those situations.

David Price exits start with flu-like symptoms

David Price
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Red Sox southpaw David Price was lifted in the first inning of Saturday’s game against the Astros. While there was some initial concern that he might have trigged the elbow tendinitis that has been affecting him lately, manager Alex Cora was quick to clarify the situation as the result of “flu-like symptoms.”

Price pitched just 2/3 of an inning, inducing a first-pitch fly out from Aledmys Díaz, striking out Alex Bregman, and allowing a single to Michael Brantley before making his departure from the mound. He was replaced by rookie right-hander Colten Brewer.

Barring further complications, Price will likely stay on track to make his next scheduled start during the Red Sox’ upcoming road trip. Entering Saturday’s match-up, the 33-year-old lefty carried a 2-2 record in seven starts with a 3.29 ERA, 2.2 BB/9, and 10.1 SO/9 across 41 innings in 2019.

Following Price’s removal, the Red Sox are still tied 0-0 with the Astros in the fifth.