Nitkowski On Hinch: You Want To Be A Move Ahead, Not A Move Behind

A.J. Hinch made several questionable decisions in Game 7 of the World Series

The DA Show
October 31, 2019 - 11:14 am
AJ Hinch World Series Game 7

USA Today Images


Through the first six innings of Game 7 of the World Series on Wednesday, Zack Greinke was rolling. In the seventh inning, however, he ran into trouble. He gave up a solo home run to Anthony Rendon that cut the Astros’ lead in half, and then he walked Juan Soto.

A.J. Hinch went to the bullpen immediately – and it may have cost Houston the game, and the series, as Will Harris gave up a two-run shot to Howie Kendrick.

Was removing Greinke at that juncture the right move?

“It’s a tough one,” C.J. Nitkowski said on The DA Show. “Obviously it’s Game 7, so you’re taking that approach of you can’t let anybody get in anymore trouble at that point. After the home run and then the walk, which gets a little bit uncharacteristic for Zack Greinke – we saw him lose control a little bit earlier in the postseason. But you want to be that manager that’s a move ahead and not a move behind. I’s certainly not an easy call. In hindsight, you can always be 20/20.”

Greinke, Hinch defenders will point out, was on his third trip through the order. Perhaps that played in a role in Hinch’s decision.

“Greinke was really good third time through the order this year: just a .205 batting average against,” Nitkowski said. “He essentially faced four batters the third time through the order and was taken out of the game. As you start to get to the bottom of the lineup, you’d like to think he would be able to handle it. At the same time, you have some really good arms (in the bullpen).”

Ultimately, Nitkowski was “on the fence” at the time of the move.

“I was leaning probably get him out of there while you’re still ahead by one,” Nitkowski said, “but I wasn’t all the way in, like, ‘Hey, you have to make this move.’ I was a tough call.”

While Greinke gave the Astros 6 ad 1/3 innings, Gerrit Cole gave them, well, nothing. He got loose in the bullpen, but that’s the closest he saw to live action.

“That one was interesting because we watched him get up and throw a little bit,” Nitkowski said. “I get the idea of potentially wanting to get him a clean inning. The fact that we didn’t see him at all tells me that possibly he wasn’t feeling that great when he threw. Pure speculation on my part. Perhaps the bullpen coach didn’t love what he saw or how Gerrit Cole said that he felt. They may never admit this, but they might have been on the fence on where he was physically. It’s the end of October, first time in his career, two days’ rest – could he dig a little bit deeper? How motivated was he to dig a little bit deeper? I would like to think he was, but at the same time, this guy is headed to a monster payday and you have to take care of yourself a little bit. I’m sure Scott Boras was happy that he didn’t pitch in that game.”