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28 May

Reardon

Alex and I have been fighting about this for… oh, I guess twelve years now.

The 1992 ATL N World Series Pitching Log for Jeff Reardon

The situation is thus… In Game Two of the World Series, the Braves (having already taken the first game) lead 4-2 in the eighth. Smoltz gets the first man but then allows three straight hits and it’s first and third, one out. Bobby comes in with Stanton, who gets Olerud to pop out. Kelly Gruber, a righthander, is up, so Bobby brings in his closer, Jeff Reardon, who strikes Gruber out.

In the ninth inning, though, Reardon walks pinch-hitter Derek Bell (a rookie with a .324 OBP) with one out. And pinch-hitter Ed Sprague follows with a two-run homer. Reardon gets the next two, the Braves get Gant to second with two out but Pendleton pops up to end the game.

Game Three. The Braves take a 2-1 lead in the top of the eighth, only to relinquish it on a leadoff homer by Gruber in the bottom of the inning. In the ninth, the Braves intentionally walk the bases loaded with one out and Reardon comes in and allows a single to Candy Maldonado to end the game.

Reardon didn’t pitch again in the series, which the Braves lost in six despite outscoring the Jays and leading most of the time. Was the loss Reardon’s fault? He has to take a lot of the blame for the Game 2 loss; any closer who comes in with a lead and leaves trailing has to. Game 3 was a very difficult situation, bases loaded and one out on the road; the chance of actually getting out of that situation against a team like the Jays is probably less than fifty percent.

Was Bobby to blame for bringing in Reardon? Absolutely not.

You may not remember this, but Jeff Reardon pitched exceedingly well down the stretch for the Braves in 1992. Nobody really remembers it, because there was no stretch drive (the Braves ran away with the division). But he pitched 15 2/3 innings in fourteen games for Atlanta, allowing just two runs, and went 3-0 with three saves. In the NLCS, he pitched three innings, didn’t allow even a hit, and had a win (in the famous Game 7) and a save.

Apparently, some people think, Bobby should have known that Reardon was about to melt down. To me, that’s nonsense. We know now that Reardon was done and that the strikeout of Gruber was basically the last good thing that ever happened to him, while Mike Stanton was a good enough pitcher to still be around fourteen years later. But right then, Reardon was by all available evidence the best reliever that the Braves had. It just so happened that he broke down at the worst possible moment.

If there’s anything to criticize Bobby about, it’s that he was uncharactistically impatient and benched Reardon for the rest of the series. Reardon would have had a much better chance of getting Dave Winfield in the eleventh of Game 6 than Charlie Leibrandt, who wound up losing his second straight extra-inning Game 6, with a lot less justification.

12 Responses to “Reardon”

  1. 1
    Colin Says:

    Sure, reardon pitched 15+ good innings for Atlanta down the stretch. Before that, though, he had thrown 40+ really mediocre innings in the American League that season – and that was after posting an ERA around 2 for the first two months of the season. Although, that said, he had only allowed one run and struck out 7 in 5 IP against Toronto that season.

    Still, if we look at the teams he faced down the stretch with Atlanta we find that in his 15 innings he faced one good team (Cincinnati), two .500 teams (San Diego, Houston), and four bad teams (Mets, Phillies, Giants, Dodgers). IOW, that

    On the whole, though, Reardon allowed a line of 312/333/409 on the season against righthanders, and 304/337/582 against lefties. For whatever it’s worth, righties hit only 266/308/375 against Leibrandt on the season. So leaving in Leibrandt to face Winfield is certainly a defensible move.

    what’s interesting to keep in mind is that Stanton finished that season on fire. He ended up with a season much like Reardon’s overall, weak up front and strong down the stretch. Stanton didn’t allow an earned run from August 30 until October 2 of that year, before giving up two ER in his last game of the season. Of course, that was against all the same crappy teams upon which Reardon feasted.

  2. 2
    Mac Thomason Says:

    The Phillies were a poor team but a poor team with an outstanding offense (second in the NL). Overall, Reardon faced three of the four best offensive teams in the NL — the Phillies and Reds in the regular season, and the Pirates in the NLCS — and pitched for the fourth, the Braves.

  3. 3
    Colin Says:

    Okay, fair enough.

  4. 4
    kc Says:

    Blame JS for never giving the Braves a decent bullpen. He didn’t do it fifteen years ago, and he isn’t going to build a decent bullpen now.

    I never like JS much during these whole fifteen years…oh well…

  5. 5
    Mac Thomason Says:

    Reardon/Stanton/Wohlers/Mercker/Freeman. That was actually a pretty good pen — a guy with over 300 career saves, a couple of righthanded kids who had some good years in front of them, and two lefties who are still pitching fourteen years later. But Pena got hurt, then Mercker got hurt in the NLCS celebration (that was the year that happened, right?) and Freeman pitched poorly in the NLCS and Bobby lost confidence in him.

  6. 6
    kc Says:

    Mac, that’s a hindsight judgement. Having Staton, Wohlers, Mercker, and Freeman back then is like McBride, Devine, Boyer, and Cormier right now. They were all so young, and I think Staton and Mercker were the only two who had truly been established as good relievers back then. Also, for some reason, Bobby seemed to trust Stanton more than Mercker. Anyway, I never quite understand how JS could got rid of Stanton and Mercker so easily…did the two get expensive or something? Sorry, that was the time when I moved back to Hong Kong and there was no such thing as internet and MLB.TV back then…

    BTW, who were in the bullpen in the 1992 World Series? I checked the numbers and I find Freeman and Mercker didn’t pitch in the WS at all. Were they hurt?

    Anyhow, Reardon back then was still 10 times better than Reitsma right now.

  7. 7
    Mac Thomason Says:

    Stanton was dumped on the Red Sox in midseason of ’95 because he was pitching horribly and they just couldn’t take it anymore. Mercker was traded (for Joe Borowski, who is also still pitching) after that season, when he’d been league-average as a fifth starter. I really don’t remember why; the Braves then spent most of the 1996 season not knowing from week to week who would pitch every fifth day.

  8. 8
    kc Says:

    I wonder when the Braves will trade Reitsma away “in midseason of “xx because he was pitching horribly and they just couldn’t take it anymore.”

  9. 9
    ububba Says:

    I recall people giving Bobby a hard time after Game 3 of the ’92 WS, but I’m with Mac in that I’m not sure what else he could’ve done. What I remember about the ’92 WS is the Braves RARELY GETTING A BIG HIT. The games we lost were just brutal.

    Aside from Damon Berryhill in Game 1 (3-run HR), Lonnie Smith in Game 5 (GSHR)and Otis Nixon in Game 6 (which sent the game to extras), we left a ton of runners out there. And, to give Toronto a little credit (not that I want to), the Jays had an outrageous bullpen.

    As for Game 2, that’s on Reardon. We got him to be a closer and here’s no reason to believe that a guy named Ed Sprague would be a WS hero there. Like the Leyritz HR four years later, that HR turned the entire series around–the wrong damn way.

  10. 10
    spike Says:

    Wasn’t Reardon an extreme flyball pitcher? I recall that was what made upset about the game 3 loss – that Cox brought in the guy whose skillset didn’t give the team the best chance. My memory could be flawed though.

  11. 11
    Mac Thomason Says:

    It was the only home run he allowed as a Brave.

  12. 12
    Mark Jones Says:

    Ouch! You are bringing back painful memories. The HR landed one section to my right. It was a long drive back to Birmingham that night.

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