Sullivan: Joe Maddon’s against-the-grain strategy against Ryan Raburn

From Jeff Sullivan at FanGraphs on October 3, 2013:

When [Delmon] Young went to the Phillies, people ripped them to bits, even though Young technically wasn’t even guaranteed a job at first. When Young eventually wound up with the Rays, though, we all paused. We wanted to make fun, but because it was the Rays, we also wanted to give them the benefit of the doubt.

That’s something the Rays have earned, and now we figure when they do something weird, they must be up to something. Our assumption is generally that the Rays are right, even when we don’t know why, and the Rays made a particularly curious move on Wednesday against the Indians. It wasn’t the in-game equivalent of signing Delmon Young — who, incidentally, homered, off Danny Salazar — but there was something very much anti-traditional.

And it came in the bottom of the eighth, with the score 3-0. Joel Peralta was on the mound, and he sandwiched a single between a pop out and a fly out. Up came Ryan Raburn, and out came Joe Maddon, to replace Peralta with Jake McGee. Raburn is right-handed. Peralta is right-handed, and had thrown 16 pitches. McGee is left-handed. Against a guy known for hitting southpaws, and with a righty on the mound and righties in the bullpen, Maddon deliberately gave up the platoon advantage to go with a guy with basically one pitch.

Had the same move been made by another manager, it would’ve been bewildering. Because it was Maddon and the Rays, it demands further investigation. What was it that Maddon saw?

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Originally published: October 3, 2013. Last Updated: October 3, 2013.