Great Moments in Pitching Statistics: Jim Johnson with the hold, Joe Nathan with the win

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Gotta love the arbitrariness of the pitching decision stats. There are wins, losses, holds and saves, and all of them are subject to silliness. Two great examples happened yesterday.

In the A’s-Twins game, Jim Johnson came into the game with a two-run lead in the ninth, loaded the bases with a single and a couple of walks, then allowed the Twins to single in a run, leaving the bases loaded. Dan Otero comes in and allows a sac fly and retires the rest of the guys he faces. Johnson gets the hold — considered a positive decision for a relief pitcher — and Otero gets the blown save, even though he did almost everything he could to limit the damage done by Johnson.

In the Tigers-Dodgers game, closer Joe Nathan came into the ninth inning with a three-run lead. He have up a homer, two walks and a single to load the bases, then allowed two of those three base runners to score, blowing the lead and sending the game to extra innings. Though he wouldn’t throw another pitch in the game, he was still the pitcher of record when Victor Martinez hit the go-ahead home run in the 10th, so Nathan got the win.

Just remember that the next time someone cites saves, holds, wins or blown saves to explain why a given pitcher is good or bad.

Rays to start relievers in all three games of weekend series with Orioles

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Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that the Rays will start a reliever in each of the three games of the club’s weekend series at home against the Orioles. Sergio Romo will start Friday, Ryne Stanek will start Saturday, and Romo will start again Sunday. The Orioles’ starters are TBA at the moment.

This continues the trend that drew attention last weekend, resulting in Angels third baseman calling the strategy “bad for baseball.” I wrote about the potential labor impacts of this strategy as well. The Rays did it against the Angels because they had a right-hander-heavy top of the lineup and didn’t want lefty Ryan Yarbrough to have to face that top of the lineup three times.

The O’s have a righty-heavy top of the lineup as well, as various combinations of Trey Mancini, Adam Jones, Manny Machado, and Jonathan Schoop have batted 1-2-3-4 for most of the season. Romo has limited right-handers to a .702 OPS this season.