Based on Kapler’s desire to use pitchers on matchups rather than innings, it would help if all his relievers had the philosophy the ninth was no different than the seventh.
But the manager admitted he didn’t know for sure if the last inning should be treated differently.
I have been grinding on that question for like two years, admitted Kapler. I don’t think there’s any clear-cut answer. I know there are a lot of people who think the ninth inning is a completely different animal and you can understand why. It feels like the highest pressure situation in the game.
I used to think there were some people who could play in a market like Philadelphia, New York or Chicago and others who couldn’t. I saw that anecdotally, but I don’t know how true it is. I think it’s a great one to ponder.
A source said Smith is looking Notre Dame-fast again and primed for a big year after just being happy to get in the field in 2017. He missed all of 2016 recovering from injuries to his anterior cruciate and lateral collateral ligaments in his left knee and overcoming damage to the peroneal nerve in his final game at Notre Dame.
If we like the matchup significantly more for another pitcher, but that’s been true all the way through, said Kapler before Saturday’s scheduled game with the New York Mets. We’ve actually had conversations with Hector and others, if you have the best matchups in the eighth or seventh, if that’s the perfect spot or pocket of the lineup, we might use you and that’s not new conceptually by any stretch and it’s not a results of last night’s game.
While Kapler has continued to say he wants to use his bullpen pieces at any time based on matchups, he has used Neris exclusively at the end of games.
Last year, Neris saved 26 games in his first extended run as a closer in 29 chances. One of his blown saves was giving up back-to-back-to-back homers with a three-run lead in a loss to Los Angeles in Dodger Stadium.
It was early in his audition to be the closer and it didn’t break him.