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To Pinch Hit or Not To Pinch Hit

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Yesterday's in-game thread included a fairly lengthy discussion about whether or not to pinch hit for Jason Kendall in the bottom of the 8th inning.

The bases were loaded, there were two outs, the Brewers were down by two and Carlos Marmol was on the mound for the Cubs.

In this situation, there were a few options thrown out by the in-game folks:

  • Kendall bats for himself
  • PH Carlos Corporan
  • PH Craig Counsell
  • PH Casey McGehee
  • PH Yovani Gallardo
  • PH Brad Nelson

Remember, too, that the pitcher's spot was up next, so we'd be looking at two consecutive pinch hitters.

There are two main arguments for leaving Kendall to bat for himself in this position:

First, in the Cubs series, Kendall had five hits and three RBI. Over the past ten games, he's raised his BA .59 over the past ten games and only failed to get a hit once in that time.

Kendall is hitting .234 on the season and .342 over the past 10 games. He's also hitting .253 against righties.

Second is that Marmol's ERA against righties this season is 5.23 while against lefties it's 1.93.

This means that Counsell, likely everyone's first choice to be the pinch hitter in this situation, is probably a poor choice, making Kendall an even more appealing option.

The argument for hitting Brad Nelson or Yovani is their power. These two are the ones on the list with the likely home run power.

Of course, Brad Nelson hasn't had a hit this season and YoGa likely hadn't taken BP, so both were outside chances there.

Additionally, Nelson hit just .286 in the minors last season and, as we all know, is 0-for this season, and YoGa is hitting just .200 against lefties.

Corporan was likely to take on of those two PH spots if we were to definitely pull Kendall, but he had just 21 AB at Nashville this season. When you look at a lack of information and Kendall's prolific past few weeks, it seems like a no-brainer to stick with Kendall.

The fact that Marmol was on the mound changes the dynamic completely. The Brewers have not had success against him, making who hits in the situation almost moot - no one on our team hits well against him.

In all of 2008, we had just four hits against Marmol, meaning the odds were against everyone. Prince had the most success against him last season with just two hits (and both of those were at Wrigley) and Corey and Rickie each have one hit. We batted .114 against him all of 2008.

In 24 MLB AB's last season, McGehee his BA was just .167. He's hitting .200 this season, making him an outside shot here.

There was an argument that we should not consider that there would need to be a pinch hitter after this at-bat, as well, but I think it's relevant.

If we assume Counsell gets the first PH, and we assume he got a hit, the likely outcome would have been two runs from a single, at best - meaning that the game would only have been tied and the next person at-bat would also have needed to get a hit for the Brewers to take the lead.

If Counsell recorded an out, the pitcher's spot would have led off the next inning and the Brewers would have been down by a minimum of two runs.

I just find it hard to not consider these situations when deciding whether or not to pinch for Kendall there and it seems to me that the same would be true of Kendall.

The biggest caveat to this whole discussion was if Mike Rivera would not have been on the DL. Were he on the bench, I think I would have pulled Kendall without a second thought.

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This whole argument is relevant to this game situation only. There have been quite a few times already this season where many of us would have pulled Kendall in favor of a pinch hitter.

However, the lack of power or successful hitting our bench really has Macha's hands tied in these situations, I think. A lack of someone like Russell Branyan or Gabe Kapler or Joe Dillon or Gabe Gross on the bench this season absolutely changes our pinch hitting dynamic.