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Stats Back Up Jim Leyland's Decision To Pull Rick Porcello Last Sunday

Despite the Tigers winning and ending their five-game losing streak (the only result that really matters), fans still clamored on Monday of this week and beyond that Leyland's decision to pull Rick Porcello, who was one-hitting the Bucs on 84 pitches through eight innings, and not afford him an opportunity to finish the complete game shutout was the wrong decision. 

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Something I wanted to do when I wrote about Leyland's rant and subsequent apology was to find stats from recent history to either back up or refute Leyland's move. I didn't have the time to do that, but, thankfully, Baseball Prospectus did and then provided a rant of their own, showing that stats clearly indicate Leyland's strategy was the right one [H/T Motor City Bengals]:

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Between 2000 and 2010, there were over 1700 instances in which a starting pitcher completed eight scoreless innings. In nearly two-thirds of those instances, the starter came back out for the ninth. The team allowed an average of 0.45 runs in those innings. Conversely, when the starter was pulled, his team allowed an average of 0.35 runs in the ninth. [ ...]

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Whatever the case, you would need your starter to be over half a run in ERA better than your best reliever to leave the starter in. Again, if you are watching a game where a pitcher has thrown eight scoreless, most of the time, bringing in a reliever is the better option in the ninth. Pinch-hitting for the pitcher is always the better option at that stage of the game, given that the objective is to win the game.

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Oh, that has to be embarrassing for the fans who strictly adhere to sabermetrics and have been railing on the seemingly out-of-touch Leyland. Also, for what it's worth, Rick Porcello completely understands why he was pulled - although he's smart enough to know that he has to say that.

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