Liam Hendriks obtained shelled final night time. After it regarded just like the White Sox had put the sport away — they led 8–2 after the underside of the eighth inning — the Guardians made issues fascinating by stringing collectively hits, errors, and walks to trim the deficit to eight–4. With two outs, Tony La Russa referred to as for Hendriks, who promptly surrendered a single and a grand slam to tie the sport.
It was the the primary blemish on what in any other case would have been a sterling week for Hendriks. From Could 2 to Could 7, he’d been an absolute workhorse, making 5 appearances in six days with out permitting a run. We’ll most likely by no means know whether or not Monday’s sport — his sixth in eight days — was affected by fatigue; Hendriks wouldn’t doubtless admit that even when it had been the case. Nevertheless it’s affordable to wonder if one thing might have gone in another way, someplace within the sequence of occasions, that gave the White Sox a greater probability of hanging on final night time.
Six video games in eight days is an efficient cap on reliever utilization as of late. No reliever has thrown seven video games in eight days previously three years; six video games in eight days has occurred 23 instances over that very same stretch. Hendriks himself accounts for 3 of these, with the remaining a hodgepodge mixture of closers and low-leverage center relievers and Raisel Iglesias as the one different pitcher with a number of entries.
That makes it sound like Hendriks does this on a regular basis, however that’s really not the case. The primary time he went six video games in eight days was August 8, 2020, in the beginning of the pandemic-shortened season. That was a ton of labor, and whereas he was wonderful in that stretch, to the tune of a 1.50 ERA, he obtained an enormous period of time off on both facet. He began this stretch after 5 full days off and obtained three days of relaxation afterwards.
The second time Hendriks went six video games in eight days? Three days in the past, Could 7. In one thing of a mirror of 2020, Hendriks obtained a strong chunk of relaxation from April 25 to April 29, whereas the Sox had been on a streak of both dropping or successful huge. However since then, he’s been used actively, with a five-games-in-six-days dash within the center. I got down to see whether or not the White Sox had been excessively aggressive in any of these video games, utilizing Hendriks when another person of their strong, although shallow, bullpen would have sufficed.
Could 2: Angels
Hendriks had thrown in a single sport over the previous week. The White Sox took a 3–0 lead into the ninth, and with Dylan Stop having pitched a seven-inning gem, loads of arms had been out there out of the ‘pen. Nonetheless, Hendriks was so rested that simply getting him some work appears very affordable. Nothing to see right here.
Could 3: Cubs
Showing on back-to-back days is nothing too unusual for Hendriks; he’s made roughly 1 / 4 of his appearances since becoming a member of the White Sox on zero days’ relaxation. That’s customary for a high-leverage reliever; Aroldis Chapman, Emmanuel Clase, Aaron Loup, Tyler Rogers, Brad Hand, Kenley Jansen, and loads of different related names are in the identical ballpark.
Did the White Sox want Hendriks to forestall the underside of the Cubs’ lineup (Jason Heyward, Nico Hoerner, Yan Gomes) from scoring two runs? In all probability not. I most likely wouldn’t have used Hendriks right here; if I exploit a reliever to get him again into the groove, like the day past’s look, I’d have a tendency to present them the subsequent day without work. Why drift from under-use to over-use so shortly? However that is simply how La Russa makes use of Hendriks: in a save scenario, whatever the issue of the save. Nothing too uncommon to see right here regardless of my objections, and I’m positive Hendriks was clamoring for the work as properly.
Could 4: Cubs
Now we’re entering into the center of the matter. With a one-run lead and dealing with among the Cubs’ greatest bats (Willson Contreras and Frank Schwindel led off the inning), and with Aaron Bummer, Matt Foster, and Kendall Graveman already carried out, Hendriks was the apparent selection. Had he labored the 2 earlier days? Certain. Was this the primary time he’d made back-to-back-to-back appearances since early in 2021? Certain. However when you used Hendriks within the earlier, low-leverage save conditions, absolutely you must use him right here.
For what it’s price, that is the argument towards utilizing Hendriks in these three-run-lead video games, or with a two-run lead towards weak competitors. You’re all the time weighing utilizing a more in-depth towards whenever you would possibly be capable to use them sooner or later, must you run into worse hassle. That is the obvious scenario for a high-leverage reliever like Hendriks. His two earlier outings had been low-stress, with 22 pitches between them. I believe that just about each supervisor in baseball would use Hendriks right here, however it ought to imply tighter utilization bands for him within the subsequent few days.
Could 6: Crimson Sox
Now this one feels unusual to me. The White Sox had the day without work on Could 5, so most of their bullpen was well-rested. With a 4–1 lead within the eighth, La Russa turned to Graveman, his second-best reliever. Graveman gave up a run, and La Russa turned it over to Hendriks for the ninth with a two-run lead. Going together with your two greatest pitchers regardless of a three-run lead within the eighth is overkill on a group with a shallow bullpen.
La Russa has a transparent bullpen hierarchy, which added to the problem. He makes use of Hendriks and Graveman aggressively, kind of each time the Sox are forward. Bummer qualifies for that function as properly, although he’s on the IL for the time being; Joe Kelly will doubtless change him as one of many high-priority arms.
After that, it’s extra of a muddle. Foster and Tanner Banks lead the aid corps in innings pitched, however they’ve each been used primarily in low-leverage spots. Reynaldo López and José Ruiz are technically good backups to Graveman and Hendriks, however they haven’t been used that means. Ruiz had solely thrown twice within the final week when Graveman got here in with a three-run lead. He’s been wonderful this 12 months, with a mid-2s ERA and peripherals to match. López has been worse, and wouldn’t have minded a day without work; like Hendriks, he’d thrown on the third and 4th, although he didn’t throw on the 2nd and solely confronted a single batter on the 4th.
A kind of two ought to virtually definitely have spelled both Graveman or Hendriks. They’re strong relievers, the sport wasn’t precisely within the stability, and the Crimson Sox had been sending a punchless backside of the lineup (Franchy Cordero, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Christian Vázquez) to the plate within the ninth. This can be a pure “the nearer’s the nearer as a result of he’s the nearer” second; you’ll be able to’t use Hendriks in each save scenario. In case you’re going to deliver him in with a three-run lead towards the Angels, you need to be prepared to let him sit up two towards the Crimson Sox, significantly when he’s solely a day faraway from three straight appearances.
Could 7: Crimson Sox
We’re attending to over-use territory. 5 video games in six days is a ton of labor for a reliever. That is the primary time Hendriks has carried out this within the final three years. Nobody has carried out it twice over that window; solely ten pitchers have carried out it, interval.
In La Russa’s protection, this was a spot the place you need your greatest reliever. The White Sox had been defending a two-run lead within the tenth, with a zombie runner beginning the inning on second and Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts, and J.D. Martinez due up. This was a transparent scenario in your greatest pitcher, however Hendriks most likely shouldn’t have been out there. He’d thrown 21 pitches the day past, and once more, it was his fifth look in six days. It’s an excessive amount of to ask! Bullpens are 9 deep as of late; these different arms must throw someday. However La Russa had as soon as once more used the blokes he trusts not less than somewhat bit; López and Ruiz had already thrown, and Graveman had thrown 20 pitches the prior day (one fewer than Hendriks, when you’re preserving rating at residence).
Sooner or later, you need to cease mashing the “ship within the nearer” button. At a number of turns all through this journey, La Russa was confronted with a scenario that may usually be an important spot for his greatest reliever. In seemingly every case, he’d beforehand over-used Hendriks in additional marginal spots, which meant selecting between wholesome relaxation and the very best pitcher for the large spot. In each case, he selected on the spot gratification over long-term relaxation for Hendriks. It labored this time, as Hendriks escaped the jam with no single run.
Could 8: Crimson Sox
Lastly, the insanity needed to cease. Even with a one-run lead within the backside of the ninth, the precise scenario Hendriks lives for, he couldn’t go. He had merely pitched too incessantly previously week. Hendriks is a madman. He wears his coronary heart on his sleeve on the mound, and he’s phenomenally pushed. There’s each probability that he would have pitched if La Russa had referred to as his identify. However nobody — nobody in any respect — has thrown six video games in seven days previously three years. That’s simply not how trendy relievers function.
As a substitute, La Russa used the blokes he’d largely favor to keep away from. Ruiz got here in for 3 batters and two outs (Martinez doubled to steer off the inning). Bennett Sousa then got here in for a lefty and retired a pinch-hitting Kevin Plawecki for the ultimate out of the sport. Because it seems, you may get saves together with your lesser relievers!
Could 9: Guardians
Ah, the fateful day. As we’ve already coated, Hendriks gave up a game-tying grand slam. Ought to he even have been within the sport within the first place? In all probability not. He had labored a lot over the previous week that I consider most managers could be getting him relaxation, and regardless of what really occurred, an 8–4 lead with two outs and two on isn’t a very high-leverage spot. Graveman was out there and hadn’t thrown previously two days. He’s additionally a extremely good reliever; La Russa trusts him fairly a bit. Sousa might have gone; he’d thrown solely 4 pitches the day earlier than to file his save. Heck, Ruiz had thrown solely seven.
I’d have used Graveman and never thought twice about it. Nevertheless it was a save scenario, and the nearer hadn’t thrown the day past, so what did you suppose La Russa was going to do? He went to Hendriks, the man the group pays a ton of cash to be its greatest reliever. Hey, he was on sooner or later of relaxation!
I’m undecided whether or not the earlier days of use damage Hendriks final night time. Anybody can provide up a house run; it wasn’t even a very poor pitch, a 99-mph four-seam fastball on the prime of the strike zone. However within the look as a complete, he regarded off. His first two sliders bounced properly earlier than residence plate. He solely threw a slider another time, and it was a cement mixer, mild on motion and middle-middle.
Possibly that is making an excessive amount of out of nothing. Possibly that is simply how Hendriks would pitch on a regular basis if he had his druthers. Nevertheless it stands out to me as extreme given Hendriks’ regular workload. 5 video games in six days, six video games in eight days, three straight days of labor: the previous week had been one heavy-workload milestone after one other.
It will be good to make use of your nearer each day. They’re the very best reliever on the group, in spite of everything. However that is what occurs whenever you mindlessly name for the nearer time after time: ultimately, each group hits a stretch of a number of save conditions in a row. I’m positive La Russa hoped to not use Hendriks final night time, and I’m positive that he hoped for a barely bigger lead at numerous events within the final week so he might have given Hendriks the night time off. However when you’re utilizing him in each save scenario — and that’s principally been the case, minus what would have been a second straight three-days-in-a-row save on Could 8 — you’re going to run into these lengthy use streaks.
I don’t handle a significant league bullpen. It’s extremely onerous, and far simpler to do from the consolation of my own residence and in hindsight. However for a group just like the White Sox, with a wonderful again of the bullpen however restricted depth, realizing when to avoid wasting your bullets is essential. I don’t suppose they’ve carried out that thus far this 12 months, and I fear that continued over-use will damage lots of their greatest relievers because the season wears on.