“One Game at a Time”
With every series currently sitting at a two games to none lead I thought I’d rant on the old sports cliché, we gotta play’em “one game at a time.”
A Google search produces Cubs players such as Rich Harden and manager Lou Pinella. Here is a screen capture image of just such an interview with Rich Harden, complete with cliché:
For the Cubs or any team for that matter which finds itself having to dig itself out of a hole they truly have to play and manage as if it were one game at a time. This translates into using bullpen pitchers with a greater frequency, for longer durations and even dipping into prospective starters that otherwise wouldn’t be used. Pinch hitters are used with more immediacy (which should happen during the regular season anyway), struggling players are benched and leashes are shortened all around.
On the other hand the team that is in the lead has the luxury of slotting their bullpen pitchers for situtations down the line. Some managers may go for the kill but others may not lengthen out their closer if he’s pitched in the two previous games.
An example of this could end up being Johnathan Papelbon in game three of the Boston vs LA Angels series. While an off-day helped out, Papelbon threw 13 pitches in 1 IP in game one and 21 pitches in 2 IP in game two. Papelbon, who tired in september (.347 BAA), will probably go no more than 1 IP in game three and may even have a portion of the ninth handled for him.
A team coming from behind would not have this luxury.
Of course an increased workload may not kill a team, ie: Boston down 3-0 to Cleveland. But just like in chess, knowing the layout of the board and the available future moves can dictate a teams strategy.