World Series Game Four turning points: Dodgers bullpen woes

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 27: Catcher Christian Vazquez #7 and pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez #57 of the Boston Red Sox talk on the mound in the sixth inning of Game Four of the 2018 World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on October 27, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. The Red Sox defeated the Dodgers 9-6. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 27: Catcher Christian Vazquez #7 and pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez #57 of the Boston Red Sox talk on the mound in the sixth inning of Game Four of the 2018 World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on October 27, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. The Red Sox defeated the Dodgers 9-6. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /

The World Series managers’ use of their starters and bullpens in Game 4 provide plenty of opportunity for second-guessing

Pitching – or lack thereof – was the whole story in Game 4 of the World Series Saturday night. By scoring nine times with Dodger relievers on the mound, Boston batters delighted second guessers everywhere who wonder about a manager’s use of his staff.

In his team’s 9-6 victory, Red Sox manager Alex Cora also maneuvered himself into and out of the second-guessers line of fire several times.

Cora and Dodger manager Dave Roberts jointly employed nine relievers, all but two of whom allowed at least one run to score. Both managers also raised eyebrows with their willingness – or reticence – to lift their starting pitchers.

Despite what managers, stat geeks and TV announcers will sometimes assert, pitcher use decisions are rarely formulaic …at least they don’t work out that way. That’s because most pitchers’ performance levels vary from game-to-game. The image is often presented of bullpens as infallible bastions of 100-mph throwing missile launchers rendering batters helpless. But that image fails to consider that pitchers are human.

The same is particularly true of starters. Although the general line of logic is that starters begin to lose it the third time through  the order and are virtually worthless by 100 pitches, that is not always the case. And even if it is, they may still be better than the guy chosen to replace them. Judgment is required. And with judgment comes debate.

The repeated need for both Roberts and Cora to  address this conundrum – when is the right time to  remove pitcher – enlivened Saturday’s game.

Here’s a review of their decisions, why they were made and how they worked out.