Chicago White Sox manager Robin Ventura may take some heat for taking his starter out of the game Sunday. It isn't warranted, however. The thinking was sound when he made the move.
As Leo Durocher used to say, you'd never lose if you could make decisions after the fact.
The White Sox saw their fortunes turn quickly late Sunday afternoon in their series finale in Los Angeles. After pulling Jose Quintana after eight shutout innings, Ventura's club gave up runs in the ninth and 10th innings to drop the contest, 2-1.
Chicago went from the verge of a series win over the best team in the majors to a 2-4 showing on their recent road trip. After the game, WSCR AM-670 post-game host Chris Rongey was left dealing with a few angry fans who couldn't believe Ventura had single-handedy blown the game with his boneheaded decision to use closer Addison Reed in the ninth.
I reached the boiling point when a caller stated that he had been watching baseball for over 50 years and that the only sane move was for Ventura to send Quintana out to start the ninth.
I've watched a fair amount of ballgames myself and know that it has been a while since the days of a starter being sent out to finish every game he starts. We've been in the era of the reliever for a few decades, mister.
I watched what happened Sunday following Reed's entrance. There's no use debating if the decision was the winning one. Reed didn't get the job done, period. But to say that not going to the closer in that situation was an inexcusable move was ignorant.
Some were stunned that Quintana was pulled following the eighth inning. I was a bit surprised that Ventura left him in following a sixth inning that saw the Los Angeles Dodgers threaten to tie the game. In fact, they probably did only to be thwarted by a fortunate appeal that went Chicago's way.
Ventura would have been justified in going to the pen earlier than he did. Instead, he went with his closer to get the last three outs. Reed hadn't blown a save since being installed as the stopper back in May. Reed is paid to close out tight games. On Sunday, that didn't happen.
Ventura had other options, but this was far from a radical move. If you want to say that he went to conventional wisdom and got burned by it, fine. Just don't say it wasn't a viable option at that stage of the game.
If Ventura sends out Quintana to pitch the ninth and the White Sox get beat, the phone lines are buzzing with Ventura's ill-advised move. I'm not apologizing for Ventura. His job is to make decisions like this every day.
On Sunday, the move wasn't the one that won the game for the White Sox. There is no denying that. However, if by some miracle Zach Stewart goes eight innings Monday against the Chicago Cubs, Ventura shouldn't hesitate to bring Reed in to finish the game.