Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada has committed an MLB-high six errors, including four throwing errors, in 13 games. To put that in some context, eight teams have committed six or fewer total errors this season and if you take Tejada out of the mix the rest of the Mets have committed only four errors.
However, with no true backup shortstop on the roster and no great options at Triple-A the Mets have little choice but to stay patient with Tejada. Here’s what manager Terry Collins told Mike Puma of the New York Post about the situation:
I’ve seen this guy play too much, and I’ve never seen this–never. So had I seen this in the past at some time I may be concerned about it, but I’m just saying the conditions have been unfavorable for what’s going on here.
Collins is right that the weather has often not been favorable–although that hasn’t led to tons of errors by other Mets–and also right that Tejada hasn’t been error-prone in the past. In fact, last season he committed just 12 errors in 110 games at shortstop. Right now he’s on pace for 75.
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.