Washington Nationals manager Davey Martinez allowed Gerardo Parra and Brian Dozier to pitch the bottom of the eighth, resulting in seven runs scoring.
The Washington Nationals entered the bottom of the eighth inning down 11-4 with little hope of mounting a comeback. In case there was any doubt of that, FanGraphs.com predicted that heading into the bottom of the inning, the Nationals had a win expectancy of 0.1%.
Rather than burn a relief pitcher, manager Davey Martinez allowed outfielder Gerardo Parra to take the mound. Parra verbalized his interest in pitching earlier this season should a scenario like tonight occur. However, it certainly didn’t turn out how he envisioned.
After walking the bases loaded, Parra allowed a run-scoring single and another walk. This prompted Martinez to make a pitching change — to Brian Dozier.
Dozier didn’t do any better than Parra. While he did record all three outs required to end the inning, he allowed a ground-rule double and a three-run home run to his friend and former teammate from Minnesota, Eduardo Escobar.
On the mound, Parra and Dozier combined for three hits allowed, four walks, seven earned runs charged (five to Parra, two to Dozier).
If (and this is a big if) the Nats put a relief pitcher in for the eighth and they pitched a clean inning, the tying run would have been on deck. But the Nats went down after that and lost the game by 11 runs rather than four.
So, was pitching Parra and Dozier the correct decision?
I think yes, for a simple reason. The Nats bullpen is already overworked. Sean Doolittle commented after the trade deadline saying that despite the team having the lowest number of innings pitched, guys were already feeling fatigued.
With a 0.1% chance of winning the game, and a position player (Parra) wanting to pitch, it seems like a no-brainer decision. Sure, it hurts the Nationals’ run differential, but in terms of the bigger picture, this decision had a negligible effect.
If anything, the Nats now know that Parra and Dozier should not be pitching in a blowout scenario, especially going the other way because it can give the opposing team a chance to come back on the Nats.
All in all, don’t fret about this decision. If the Nats win today and earn a series victory, all will be forgotten as the team heads to San Francisco for a date with the Giants.