Like any manager, 90% of the criticism Joe Maddon faces is because of his decisions related to starting pitcher pulls and bullpen usage. It’s the nature of the beast for a job that takes place mostly behind the scenes, and then partly in an extremely visible public way – and people can only discuss that part on a day-to-day basis. So they do. Which is fine.
But Maddon still pushes back a bit on that, wanting to emphasize that there’s a lot more that goes into the decisions he makes than what you can see on the surface.
“Fans, again, they have this really ridiculous concept about bullpens and bullpen management,” Maddon said on the Laurence Holmes Show today on 670 The Score. “They have no idea really what all goes into it. At the end of the day, you can make a decision that may be the absolute proper and right thing to do, but it doesn’t work out and then it’s perceived as being wrong. That’s a really bad process. Again, we talk about the bullpen before the game. We set up our guys against their guys before the game ever begins. Sometimes it doesn’t work. It’s not going to be perfect every time.”
Maddon is not wrong that what’s most important is the right process that goes into the decision, and not the times it just happens to not work out. But I also think it’s more than fair to question that process if, even before the outcome, it seems to run counter to the best approach in that moment.
With so much change coming to the bullpen this week, we’ll see how Maddon’s usage changes (or doesn’t) in the near-term. From a process perspective, it feels like you’d want to see Rowan Wick keep getting important chances, and ditto Kyle Ryan, even as Steve Cishek and Brandon Kintzler are reasonably going to be the top setup men.