Pretty much anything that is different or against the grain is going to be picked at and criticized, whether it's baseball or not. And that's doubly true when it has something to do with Toronto sports teams, it would appear.
John Gibbons hooked RA Dickey in the 5th inning after 78 pitches, and went with David Price, who had pitched Thursday on ELEVEN days rest, and wasn't totally sharp. Here are my thoughts:
- Price is your ace. If he's not, and Stroman is, then Stroman should be starting game 5 anyway, and you'd like to have him do so on normal rest. If you want to hang on to Price just in case things go south with Stroman in Game 5, then sure. I can't imagine there's a shift in win equity by saving Price for relief in 5, versus using him in game 4 in a 6-run game, but if there is, it's small.
- We don't know that Price isn't available in relief for game 5. I'd guess that he is, for the record, because he's David Price, but I don't know, so I'm willing to not piss and moan about it. Still, Price threw 90 pitches four days ago on 11 days rest, threw a bit last night, and then threw 50 more today. I don't think it's unfathomable that he can't rest a day and then face Choo, Fielder and Moreland in a big spot, especially with no Brett Cecil.
- Dickey was a little wild out there tonight, getting a bunch of 3-ball counts and having a reasonably elevated pitch-count. More importantly, he was entering his 3rd time through the order, having just gotten Delino DeShields out. He was at 78 pitches at this point, so it's not like he was primed to go 8 innings and Gibby was quick with the hook-- it was a must-win, and Dickey probably had it in him to get through 6, but that assumes that he doesn't have issues with the middle of the order coming up.
- Choo had gone 2-for-2 against Dickey, as had Beltre, despite the fact that he can't run. Next up would be Fielder and Moreland. This inning didn't end up getting out of control, but that doesn't meant that it couldn't have.
- Can you maybe go to Aaron Loup in a 6-run game with the lefties coming up? Yeah, probably. Or in the 8th, when it was Fielder and Moreland? Sure. Except Loup wasn't there tonight. He had to leave the team to attend to a personal matter of some sort, so Price was the only lefty available. So he gets through Choo, Fielder and Moreland in the 5th and 6th, but then what happens if you take him out and the Rangers, in the 7th or 8th, rally and have men on base for one of those guys? Roberto Osuna is the only person in the bullpen with anything nearing a halfway reliable sample of success against lefty hitters. I'm not saying you can't go with Osuna in the 7th or 8th, but I think we all know that Gibby probably won't do that.
If Brett Cecil is still around, and maybe even if Aaron Loup is there, I think this game plays out a bit differently. We probably see Loup or Cecil in the 5th, or we see Price come in and stay in through Odor's at-bat, rather than coming all the way back around, but no Cecil and no Loup left Gibby's hands pretty well tied. This was a must-win game, and the best way to do that is to score more runs than the other team. If you were paying attention, you'd know that the Astros blew a 4-run 8th inning lead right around the same time the Jays' game started this afternoon, and there's no real reason that the same thing couldn't theoretically happen in this one.
It was outside the box, and it didn't exactly work to perfection, but Dickey didn't quite have his A-game out there, and until someone else proves themselves to be a viable option against lefty hitting, I'm really not going to complain that David Price is pitching in games for the Toronto Blue Jays in the playoffs.