There has been a lot of talk on Bucs Dugout the last two nights about manager Clint Hurdle's bullpen management. During this afternoon's media scrum Hurdle answered some questions on that topic. His comments both reveal his philosophy when it comes to managing the bullpen and shed some light (sort of) on why he used Mark Melancon in a 6-0, low-leverage situation last night. Given interest in the topic, I'm providing a full transcript.
I have many reactions to Hurdle's comments, but I'll reserve most of them because of time constraints. Briefly, however, it is still not clear to me why Vin Mazzaro did not go two innings last night. Moreover, it seems pretty obvious to me that Clint prefers a "role-based" rather than "context/leverage-based" approach to bullpen management. But, I suppose most of us knew that already. Finally, Hurdle said that with James McDonald on the mound tonight, it was "all hands on deck" in terms of bullpen availability.
Clint, thinking about bullpen management for a moment: do guys like having a defined role? Do you find that helps their performance overall? Or, do you feel comfortable mixing and matching and responding to leverage?
You take a little of all of it. We have a nice group out there. I started when I got here letting the bullpen know that their job was to get the ball to the closer. If we can establish an eighth-inning guy, we will do that. And, as soon as we do that, you'll know who it is. And I think right now we know who that is. I think last year we knew who it was. Other than that, I think you look for leverage matchups, look at guys for length. Basically, [Jeanmar] Gomez is our length guy. Wilson is the other length guy with a little more power. Jeanmar is more if we can get a bunch of right-handers stacked in there to sink the ball. [Justin] Wilson is if the lineup is kind of split right and left, you got a power left-hander that go and take both sides of the lineup on. [Jared] Hughes has been much better vs. right handers than left-handers, if you look at that context. But if you need a ground ball, he's our guy, to pinch off an inning. Watson's had good splits against both sides, but has been very effective against some tough left-hand hitters in this league. Some of his best numbers are against [Jay] Bruce and [Joey] Votto. And then you go from there. I think right now our guys are good with that.
Any thought of having Mazzaro go two innings last night. Why did you go with Mark?
Didn't want to go with Mark but sometimes circumstances on other people put you in a position to use the people that you got. So there are a lot of nights we'll tell you guys are available and something might have happened that they're not. So we used him last night because I wanted him to pitch to that part of the lineup. If I was going to use him, I wanted to use him in the middle of the lineup not at the bottom. In Mazzaro's case, we did talk about that, but then we went with Mark. We didn't want to mess with Jason, we didn't want to have to use Watson if we didn't have to.
Why not Gomez?
It was too late right then. With McDonald throwing tonight, you know, who knows, all hands on deck.