Houston’s Brad Mills Pulls a Waxahachie Swap

From SABR member Rob Neyer at SB Nation on August 24:

Tuesday night in Denver, Astros manager Brad Mills made one of the most unusual moves a manager will occasionally make, sending his relief pitcher to right field for one batter, then bringing him back to the mound.

The idea, of course, is to maintain the platoon advantage for three hitters without having to use three pitchers. In this case, the left-hander Wesley Wright was summoned to start the bottom of the eighth inning against lefty-hitting Carlos Gonzalez. After retiring CarGo, Wright went to right field, Mills called upon right-hander David Carpenter, who retired righty-hitting Troy Tulowitzki … after which Wright returned to the mound to face lefty-hitting Todd Helton. He got him, too. So Mills’ highly unorthodox tactics worked perfectly.

How rare is this move? Lou Piniella did it a couple of years ago in this game, with lefty Sean Marshall. Which inspired me to write a couple of pieces about the tactic (here and here). If you want to read a somewhat comprehensive history of the move, you should check those out. Today, just a few highlights …

As near as I’ve been able to tell, this sort of move disappeared from 1909 until perhaps the late 1940s, when minor-league manager Paul Richards deployed the scheme in an International League game. Richards did it again in 1951, by which time he was managing the Chicago White Sox, so it got a fair amount of publicity. The best evidence suggests that Richards did it four times in the majors; his nickname was “the Wizard of Waxahachie” — Richards hailed from Waxahachie, Texas — leading a reader to suggest calling the move “the Waxahachie Swap”.

Read the full article here: http://mlb.sbnation.com/2011/8/24/2380972/brad-mills-pulls-waxahachie-swap-tuesday-night

Originally published: August 24, 2011. Last Updated: August 24, 2011.