The best team in the American League succeeded this season, in part, because of an almost-blind loyalty to advanced metrics. The Tampa Bay Rays love the analytics game. But on Tuesday, the game didn’t love them back.
Manager Kevin Cash decided to pull the plug on ace lefty Blake Snell’s strong start, removing him with a 1-0 lead, one out in the sixth and Mookie Betts coming up for the Dodgers. Snell had nine strikeouts and had just allowed his second hit.
There was second-guessing, to be sure, after the Dodgers rallied and won their first World Series since 1988. Nick Anderson came on to replace Snell. He served up a double to Betts, spiked a game-tying wild pitch and allowed an RBI groundout. The lead was gone, and soon, the World Series, too.
The Rays, from the front office to the manager, have been all-in on analytics, and the numbers said Snell’s time was up. Not everyone was on board, however. “I am definitely disappointed and upset,” Snell said. “I just want the ball. I felt good. I did everything I could to prove my case to stay out there, and then for us to lose, it sucks.”
So, Blake, about your manager’s decision, something millions of fans questioned, even as you were walking off the mound? “I am not going to question him. He’s a helluva manager, so I am not going to question him. And I can only look forward to what I am going to accomplish this offseason.”
Gary Sheffield Jr. at Outkick.com said it wasn’t on Cash, who is “willing to bend the knee to the analytical department, who now gets to make the tough calls. An organization that pays millions of dollars in management salaries has thrown all its eggs in the basket of a spreadsheet.”