One thing that has been really bothering me ever since Joe Torre took over as manager of the Dodgers last year is that he basically never ever uses the double switch.
A perfect example was tonight’s game on the road against the Chicago Cubs. In a very tight game with the Dodgers leading 2-1, Torre yanked starter Randy Wolf after he allowed a leadoff homer to start the eighth, and brought in relief ace Ramon Troncoso.
With closer Jonathan Broxton having thrown a ton of pitches the day before, Torre was obviously hoping that his second-best reliever Troncoso would be able to go two innings for the save (which was why he had even allowed starter Wolf to come out for the eighth).
But the pitcher’s spot was also due to bat 5th in the top of the ninth. This meant that there was absolutely no reason not to make a double switch, because if the pitcher’s spot came up in the 9th, it would almost certainly mean there were runners on base and in scoring position, and in a one-run ball game you would certainly not want to have to bat a relief pitcher in a situation where runs were definitely needed.
But sure enough, as he has done ever since he returned to the National League, Torre did not make a double switch of any kind, and sure enough Troncoso made it through the 8th just fine, and sure enough the Dodgers got something going in the 9th, and sure enough Torre sent a relief pitcher up to bat with two runners on base and two outs, and Troncoso struck out swinging to end any chance of scoring further insurance runs.
Now, Troncoso was able to close out the Cubs in the bottom of the 9th for the save, but that is almost besides the point, because he did so in spite of some flat-out terrible managing by Torre.
There was absolutely no excuse not to make a double switch in the 8th inning, as the game was almost over, Torre was *clearly* planning to go with Troncoso for two innings, and he had his entire bench available. Torre clearly never even considered it, however, nor did any of the Dodger coaches suggest it.
An artfully executed double switch is not only one of the most beautiful strategic maneuvers in baseball (and one of the main reasons why the DH is an abomination), but it is also a crucial tool in an NL manager’s toolbox to ensure that he maximizes his teams ability to score runs and his own ability to get more innings out of his best pitchers.
I’m not sure if Torre just spend too long in the AL, is getting too old, or if he never used the double switch, even back when he managed in the NL before, but it is shocking and simply unacceptable how many times this season (and last year as well) he found himself having to send a reliever to the plate just to keep him in the game, or found himself having to pinch hit for a reliever who was pitching really well, when these problems could have easily been avoided with a simple double switch.
But Joe Torre never makes double switches.