My even bigger gripe came on Thursday afternoon when the Orioles held a 4-2 lead in the bottom of the 8th inning. The bases were loaded with no outs and Wieters, Hardy, and Markakis were due up. When the bullpen was shown on television, both Koji and Gregg were warming up.
Clearly, this was Buck having Koji ready in case the Orioles took more than a three run lead heading into the 9th inning. If that were to happen, it would no longer be a save situation, so in his mind, he had to have Koji ready.
The Orioles didn’t score again in the 9th, and Gregg, right on cue, came in to “save” the game. He almost blew another one, giving up a leadoff home run to Adam Lind, but luckily he retired the next three batters and did record the save, which improved the Orioles to 31-35.
Here’s what I don’t understand. I know Koji Uehara is a better pitcher than Kevin Gregg. Buck knows this. Kevin Gregg likely knows this. Everyone does!
So why does Buck Showalter care if Kevin Gregg racks up 40 saves this season? Doesn’t he care more about winning? If Buck gets fired in two years, what is he going to say? “Well, it sucks I lost my job, but at least Kevin Gregg got his 40 saves in 2011, wins be darned!”
Gregg is allowing more than 1 1/2 baserunners an inning. He can talk all he wants about how he pitches around hitters to avoid giving into them, but at some point, he has to attack guys and get them out. If his stuff isn’t good enough to where he can go right after hitters in a one run game, then he shouldn’t be pitching in any type of close game, much less be given the 9th inning every single time the O’s are leading by 1-3 runs.
I understand that the overwhelming majority of MLB managers want to name their closer and stick with them, but that doesn’t make it right. It isn’t right. Perhaps they do it because it takes away tough decisions. Not that Buck is a guy to shy away from criticism, but if Gregg blows an important game in the 9th, most of the fans and media just accept it and give Showalter the benefit of the doubt because Gregg is the closer, and closers pitch the 9th inning.
The bottom line is that Kevin Gregg does not give the Baltimore Orioles the best chance to win games. Koji Uehara is a better pitcher than Kevin Gregg. No one can dispute that, including Buck Showalter.
Once that is established, why shouldn’t Koji have pitched the 9th inning last Saturday against Tampa? Why didn’t Koji come in on Thursday to finish off the Jays?
I thought Buck Showalter cared more about wins than the save rule?
If he does, he sure isn’t showing it. When it comes to managing his bullpen in the 9th inning, Buck Showalter has done nothing but push buttons…and that’s very disappointing. Very disappointing.