In Sunday night’s Game 5 of the World Series, with the Red Sox holding a significant lead going into the bottom of the ninth inning, starting pitcher Chris Sale was brought in to close out the game. I immediately cringed, because it felt like yet another attempt to try to force A Madison Bumgarner Moment, and that annoys me every year.
What Bumgarner did was truly special, and necessary, so it feels cheapened every time a manager decides to throw a starting pitcher into the game all willy-nilly. Especially when they have a commanding lead.
That said, while watching Chris Sale’s post-game interview, he talked about how special it was to get to record the final out in a World Series-clinching game, and I felt a little less annoyed about the whole thing. Sale was initially scheduled to start this game, but they opted to start David Price instead (a fine decision, as it turned out). So it was a nice way to involve Sale in the game once it was apparent that he wasn’t going to start another game this postseason.
Also, “pitcher who gets the last out of a World Series win” isn’t a very big club. The person who gets the honor tends to be involved in some of the most iconic pictures captured for that win. The Buster Hug Moment, if you will.
There certainly are a lot of weird things going on with how starting pitchers are used, not only in the postseason but in the regular season as well. Not all of them are good ideas. But this one? I’ll allow.