When the Rangers let Game One of the American League Championship Series get away from them last October, everyone in the world wondered why Ron Washington let his team blow a lead without ever getting Neftali Feliz into the game.
The problem was that Washington, like just about every other manager in the game today, refuses to use his closer in anything but a save situation. It's asinine to paint yourself into a corner because of a statistic but like citizens of a country ruled by a tyrant, we've all learned how to live our lives under adverse circumstances.
As recent events have shown us, there are times when people rise up and do something about the tyrants keeping them under their thumb. One day there will be such a man in baseball. For a brief moment on Tuesday, we thought Ron Washington was going to be that man.
There was a headline on ESPN Dallas proclaiming that "Neftali Feliz Won't Be Saved for Saves." The clouds parted, sunlight filled the room and harp music played in the background. Finally, sense had returned to the game of baseball.
And then we read the article.
It seems that Washington's adjustment to using Feliz in save situations (which, in case you don't know, mean that the Rangers are up by three runs or fewer) is using him in games where the team leads by four or more runs in the ninth inning. He did it in the first game of the year against the Red Sox and he says he'll do it again.
"I’m trying to win a game," Washington said. "It is nothing against the Boston Red Sox. I’m going to get the ball to him [Feliz] and let's go home. But say I don’t use him, all hell breaks loose and by the time I get him in, we lose. I’m trying to win."
It's amazing that our world is one where a manager feels a need to explain why he'd use his best reliever to protect a four-run lead in the ninth inning without being asked a followup about why he refuses to use him to protect a one-run lead in the eighth inning. Or in a tie game in the ninth inning on the road.
Or any other time that it would be helpful to use your best reliever to help you win a game instead of merely making sure that he winds up with an "S" next to his name in the box score.