Baseball Toaster Cub Town
Desperate Times....
2006-02-24 07:35
by Derek Smart

Remember how maddening it was to see Mike Remlinger getting killed by nearly every lefty he'd face? Well, now that he's battling for a spot on the Braves roster, it seems Rem finally figured out it was an issue that needed correcting.

Since Mike Remlinger left Atlanta after the 2002 season, he's added a few pounds and a few shades of gray hair. But the change that is going to help him make the big-league roster is the addition of a breaking ball that he never had to use during those successful years he previously enjoyed with the Braves.


During Remlinger's 2002 season, his changeup made him even more effective against right-handers than he was vs. left-handers. With the curveball, Cox could feel even more comfortable using Remlinger in any situation.

"We always used him against righties," Cox said. "If the curve is going, we can do anything [with him]."

Beyond noting that 40 seems a little old to be toying with a new pitch, I was going to say something snarky about how Rem was used while in Chicago, but I looked at the breakdown of his batters faced, and his misuse wasn't as egregious as I remembered.

During his last three years under Cox (Retrosheet doesn't have splits for handedness until the 2000 season), he faced righties 70.4% of the time. While under Baker, it was 61.6%, and while he did, indeed, face more lefties in Chicago, one can at least see in that ratio that Baker appears to have had a glimmer of understanding about his strengths and weaknesses, which is about seventeen glimmers more than I would have credited him with before looking at the numbers.

2006-02-24 07:53:15
1.   Ali Nagib
I don't know what the actual breakdowns are statistically, but I'd imagine that any relief pitcher that's not an OOGY is going to face a fairly normal breakdown of of righties/lefties faced, especially in the NL. Since there aren't very many mid-inning pitching changes, a guy is almost always going to face at least 3 batters, and the way most lineups are constructed, he's not very likely to see guys that are all batting from the same side of the plate. This is especially true if he's pitching in the 7th or earlier, when an opposing manager isn't as likely to blow out his bench try to turn an inning of batting R-L-R to L-L-L or whatever.
2006-02-24 08:11:08
2.   scareduck
ESPN has splits throughout a player's career, as do the stats on, though doesn't do splits prior to 1999. The problem with is that they don't provide navigation for years prior to 2002, but you can monkey with the URL to get that to work.
2006-02-24 08:33:37
3.   Derek Smart
Makes sense, although part of my point is that I'd expected to see more of a LOOGY tendency with Rem under Baker based on how I remembered him being used.

However, what that would shoot down is the idea that Baker was consciously using Remlinger's platoon splits to his advantage, instead implying that he was doing nothing other than using him as he would any one-inning reliever with no discernable platoon split, and that idea certainly jives with the lack of purpose I'd recalled in his use. Thanks for thinking of that, because that concept obviously flew right by me.

Good to know, although I hate to use ESPN if I can avoid it. Still, for that sort of thing it might be impossible, so thanks for the resource workaround.

2006-02-24 09:12:45
4.   Ali Nagib
To look at the actual numbers, of Remlinger's 35 appearances with the Cubs in 2005, 24 of them were of 1 IP or more, and in 28 he faced at least 3 batters. Dusty may have been more inclined to bring him in when the other team was sending up L-R-L, whereas he may have gone to a different pitcher if it was R-L-R, but that still means that he's facing at least 1 righty, and probably a second if he gets to a fourth batter.
2006-02-25 15:46:39
5.   Schteeve
I recall David Cone tinkering and inventing new pitches on the fly when he was very late in his career, so I'm not sure why it would be bad for a 40 year old to be learning a new pitch.
2006-02-25 21:02:22
6.   shawndgoldman
Looking at the Cubs 2005 stats, their pitchers had a total of 5435 AB's against, 3119 of which were against right-handed batters. This is 61.1% of the ABs against. The deviation from this number is significant under Cox, and borderline non-existant under Baker. Therefore, i think if the numbers show anything it is this: Bobby Cox recognized Remlinger's reverse splits and preferrentially pitched him against righties, whereas Baker was either ignorant of the reverse splits or thought them unimportant, resulting from a complete lack of preference for the handedness of the batter Remlinger would face.

I think the reason why it seemed Remlinger was so mis-used is that many times (probably around 40% of the time), Remilinger would be brought in to face a lefty, which is a rate far too high when his splits are considered. That, and Remlinger gave up a monster home run to Jim Edmonds in his most memorable appearance of 2005.

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