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Lance Lynn and intentionally walking the only batter you face

Posted by Andy on October 25, 2011

Last night, Lance Lynn intentionally walked the only batter he faced in the game. It seems that the wrong reliever was warming up, which is why LaRussa replaced Lynn after the free pass.

There have been just a few other instances in the playoffs of a pitcher intentionally walking the only batter faced:

Rk Player Date Series Gm# Tm Opp Rslt App,Dec R ER BB SO HR IR IS BF IBB ERA WPA RE24 aLI
1 Lance Lynn 2011-10-24 WS 5 STL TEX L 2-4 8-8 0 0 1 0 0 2 0 1 1 undef -0.003 -0.172 .600
2 Allen Watson 1999-10-14 ALCS 2 NYY BOS W 3-2 8-8 0 0 1 0 0 2 0 1 1 undef -0.014 -0.170 3.370
3 Mike Stanton 1992-10-20 WS 3 ATL TOR L 2-3 9-9 0 0 1 0 0 2 0 1 1 undef 0.011 -0.169 4.090
4 Marty Pattin 1976-10-12 ALCS 3 KCR NYY L 3-5 6-6 1 1 1 0 0 2 0 1 1 inf -0.033 -0.352 2.660
5 Billy Pierce 1959-10-06 WS 5 CHW LAD W 1-0 8-8 0 0 1 0 0 2 0 1 1 undef -0.005 -0.170 4.090
Provided by View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 10/25/2011.

Notice that every one of these cases ended up loading the bases (since 2 runners were inherited in each instance.) Probably, a double play was being set up. Also note that the WPA is not very high for any of these walks--a bit negative, but adding the extra force and possibility of a double play prevented the extra base runner from being too much of an added negative.

In the last instance before last night, Allen Watson ended up intentionally walking Lou Merloni, after Merloni pinch-hit in the middle of a plate-appearance that had been begun with Jeff Nelson throwing ball one.

There are a few reasons I can think of why a relief pitcher might face just one batter and intentionally walk them:

  • As above, the batter is pinch-hit for (either during or before the plate appearance but after the pitching change) and the manager decides that the matchup is unfavorable and opts to put the guy on.
  • A pitcher issues a ball and then has to leave the game either due to injury or ejection. The manager brings in an emergency reliever and simply has him issue three intentional balls while the real reliever who will take over warms.
  • There is a miscommunication between the manager and bullpen coach during the most important game of the year, resulting in the wrong pitcher warming up. No wait...that could never happen--it's ludicrous.
Thanks to reader fajita for emailing in about this.

33 Responses to “Lance Lynn and intentionally walking the only batter you face”

  1. nightfly Says:

    In situation number two, I think that you'd only have to do that in case of an ejection. According to rule 8.03, if a pitcher is forced from the game due to injury, the new reliever gets as many warmup pitches as he needs to be ready (in the judgment of the umpire), so there would be no reason to use a reliever solely to allow him time to get ready.

  2. Larry R. Says:

    Reason #1 was the case in all the examples given except for Lynn. You bring a guy in to face a batter, that batter is pinch hit for and, the pitcher having to face at least one batter, is told to walk him.

  3. Frank Clingenpeel Says:

    I have tried to email you with an idea for a post from time to time, and get a message about my default driver not being active. A hint would be welcome at this point {bearing in mind that when I took computer training, we used punch cards; so explain things in VERY simple terms}.

  4. Andy Says:

    Frank, I have no idea what that error is.

    My email address is my first name only, followed by the @ sign and then

  5. Frank Clingenpeel Says:

    Thanks, Andy.

  6. Evan Says:

    Interestingly enough the NY Times had an article yesterday about how the bullpen phone was one of the last surviving bastions of the landline.

    Do we know if any of these situations were of the type where the pitcher is behind 2-0 or 3-0 and the manager decides to walk the batter rather than face the batter behind in the account? Combine this with a platoon match-up and it could create the above situation.

    I would also add to your list, manager wanting to intentionally walk a batter with Dotel pitching. When that at bat started last night I had a vague memory of him having issues with intentional walks, but those pitches were incredibly ugly, especially the one that bounced to Molina.

  7. joe baseball Says:

    a pitcher could enter the game, and after a stolen base or wild pitch or something where the runners move up opening first base, it may be more advantageous to issue an intentional walk

  8. BSK Says:

    Why are bullpens separate from the dugout? It seems silly to have two different banks of players. Why not have a bullpen behind the dugout under the stands? The pitchers can sit in the dugout during the game and head back there to warm up. They'll be isolated from the fans and the game, but that is probably a good thing.

  9. Andy Says:

    As a kid, I always liked relief pitchers warming up down the sidelines instead of in a bullpen. This isn't possible in all stadiums and also introduces a measure of risk---remember how there would be a coach standing behind the warmup catcher, protecting him from any batted balls?

  10. Doug Says:

    So, is a manager compelled to change pitchers after he's signalled to the bullpen. I mean, if Lynn wasn't the guy he wanted, couldn't Tony have just decided to stick with the guy on the mound, and have him issue the free pass if necessary (while the guy he really wants is warming up)? Then, Lynn is still available for later if he's needed.

  11. Minor Leaguer Says:

    @6 If you sorted this by number of pitches, you could see that, in 13 of the cases (since pitch records were available), the pitcher threw at least a strike meaning that he did try to get the batter out but fell behind.

  12. oneblankspace Says:

    The only case I know of where a pitcher brought in from the bullpen does not have to pitch to a batter (or retire the side):

    Manager goes out to the mound. Umpire comes out to break up the conference. Manager says he wants the lefty. Umpire tells bullpen to bring in the righty. Righty does not have to face the batter, but Lefty does.

    Another case where a pitcher might be brought in for an IBB only: There was a game this season where the manager was ejected and the bench coach was inexperienced. He went to the mound, left the mound, and before he left fair territory, went back to the mound. Two charged conferences.

  13. Evan Says:

    BSK @8,

    I think the relief pitcher would prefer to have the temperature and humidity conditions where he is warming up be as close as possible to those he will experience on the mound. This might be difficult or impossible to replicate in an enclosed indoor area behind the dugout.

    Plus, we would miss the comic relief of the bullpens jogging in from the outfield when the benches clear for a fight.

  14. John Q Says:

    The 1976 lcs is an interesting/odd case.

    The Yankees had men on 2nd and 3rd with no outs in the bottom of the sixth and the Lou Pinella up at bat. The Royals had Lefty Andy Hassler on the mound with the Royals holding a 3-2 lead. Herzog decided to bring the righty Marty Pattin to face Pinella. Billy Martin countered with Lefty Carlos May to hit against Pattin.

    I guess Herzog didn't like the match-up and walked May intentionally.

    The Yankees had two lefty hitters up next, (Chamblis and Nettles) so Herzog brought in lefty Tom Hall. Chamblis hit a FC that scored White from third and then Nettles singled to score Munson and the Yankees took the lead.

    I guess the obvious question is why didn't Herzog just bring in Tom Hall to face Carlos May in the first place? Maybe the switch of Pinella/May caught Herzog off guard and Hall wasn't prepared to pitch to May.

    It looks like Pattin was only going to face Munson anyway so why wasn't Hall ready to come in and face May?

    Herzog also could have just left Hassler in the game to walk the righty Pinella and then stayed in to pitch to Chamblis and Nettles.

    Overall these were odd moves that eventually cost Herzog the game and possibly the series.

  15. BSK Says:


    I do remember that. It was also dangerous for position players chasing foul balls up and over the mound.


    That is a good point. Still, I would think that there is something that can be done. It is rather silly that a manager has no contact with the part of his team that he makes the most adjustments with.

  16. statboy Says:

    "remember how there would be a coach standing behind the warmup catcher, protecting him from any batted balls?"

    They still do that at Cubs(?) and Giants(?) games. Not sure if I have the right ballparks.

  17. fajita Says:

    interestingly, according to retrosheet, sprague was announced as a PH first, and then stanton was brought in...

    (PITCHING); Sprague was walked intentionally;

    unless this was an error in the bookkeeping, maybe bobby cox didn't have anyone else up yet in the bullpen, and was stalling to get his next pitcher ready?

  18. fajita Says:

  19. Tmckelv Says:

    Possible reason for 1 batter and IBB (didn't see it, but not sure if someone brought up this point above).

    A situation where a pitcher is brought in to actually pitch to a batter but runs up a 3-0 count and the manager decides to just walk him with intentional ball 4 (counts as IBB) instead of pitch in bad pitcher's counts. Then the manager brings in another pitcher.

  20. Tmckelv Says:

    off topic, but still involves Cardinals strategy.

    What is the fascination with sending the runner from first (Craig) down by 2 runs in the 9th with Pujols batting? Is the double play grounder more likely in that situation than the strikeout?

    I am not a big fan of sending the runners with the big hitter batting, so this strategy just seems questionable to me.

  21. Richard Chester Says:

    @8, @9

    At the Polo Grounds in NY the bullpens were on the playing field in fair ground. They were located in he deep reaches in LCF and RCF. The Polo Grounds had a deep CF.

  22. fajita Says:

    tmckelv @ 20:

    pujols is the MLB leader in GIDP.

    so in the 9th inning, with a full count, it makes sense to send the runner because pujols has a propensity to GIDP...

    after the game on mlbnetwork, harold huggie reynolds made an awesome point (as he ALWAYS does)... on the pitch prior to the strikeout pitch, with the runner moving, there was a huge hole between 1st and 2nd, and pujols was expecting a pitch down and away which is easy to poke into the opposite field.

    on the strikeout pitch, you see napoli setup down and away, and pujols is swinging for that spot to put it in the gap, but the pitcher (fortuitiously) missed his spot.

  23. Ed Says:

    In other intentional walk news, last night Albert Pujols was the first person in World Series history to be intentionally walked with the bases empty.

  24. Kahuna Tuna Says:

    @23: The Rangers also tied the World Series record for most intentional walks issued in a game, with four. The other two teams that issued four IBBs in one Series game are the Braves, in their 1991 Game 7 loss to the Twins, and the Cardinals, in a 1946 Game 5 loss to the Red Sox.

  25. John Says:

    Bobby Valentine might finish a close second to Tony LaRussa in pitching changes based on match ups... In game 5 (grand slam single) of the 1999 NLCS vs Atlanta Bobby Valentine took Turk Wendell out with a 2-0 count on Brian Jordan and brought in Dennis Cook. Dennis Cook threw 2 intentional balls to finish the walk... when Bobby Cox put up righty Brian Hunter to hit for lefty Ryan Klesko, Valentine went back to the mound and took Cook out in favor of righty Pat Mahomes. Dennis Cook threw just two pitches and never officially got credit for facing a batter as the walk was credited to Turk Wendell. By bringing in Cook mid-batter it allowed Valentine to take him out to get the righty-righty matchup he wanted even if it did mean wasting a pitcher in what would turn out to be a 15-inning game.

  26. Pete R Says:

    Here's another scenario (I don't think anyone's quite mentioned it).

    Your starting pitcher (right-handed) is tiring. He is about to intentionally walk one last batter (A) to get to a weaker, left-handed hitter (L). You plan to send in a LOOGY to retire L. But, looking ahead, you think "what if as soon as I announce LOOGY, they send in a right-handed pinch-hitter (R)? The rules say that LOOGY has to face at least one batter, but he's terrible against righties." You with me?

    The solution...send in LOOGY right now, to give up the intentional walk to A. Then if they do send in R to pinch hit, you're allowed to take out LOOGY because he's already faced his one batter.

  27. Doug Says:


    That's very clever, Pete. Very good use of the IBB as the only batter faced.

    If I can figure out how to use the Event finder, I'll see if I can find that scenario.

  28. Doug Says:

    @26, Pete.

    #2 on Andy's list fits your scenario of using a LOOGY to issue an IBB so that he can be removed if the the following batter is pinch-hit for. Lefty Allen Watson left the game after one hitter and the next hitter was pinch-hit for. Except Watson doesn't appear to have been a LOOGY - faced a single batter in only one of his 21 appearances for the Yankees that year.

    #5 also fits, except that Billy Pierce also was definitely not a LOOGY.

    One game where we do have a LOOGY (at least as much as LOOGies existed at the time) might be this one:

    1973, game 5, Mets batting, leading 1-0 with 2 outs in the 6th, man on 3rd. Darold Knowles enters and issues an IBB to the #8 hitter and then strikes out Mets pitcher Koosman who hits for himself. Knowles is removed for a pinch-hitter in the following inning. Can only speculate what happens if Koosman is pinch-hit for, but it had to have occurred to Dick Williams when he brought in Knowles that there was at least a chance that the Mets would pinch-hit for their pitcher.

  29. Rick Says:

    Does this make Lynn an intentional walk specialist?

  30. Jim Says:

    I have 2 scenarios but I'm not sure if either counts.

    #1) Runners on 2nd & 3rd & two outs. Ground ball specialist comes in and intentionally walks a batter to set up the DP. Before throwing a pitch to the next batter, he picks the guy off of 1st that he just walked. Does it count as a 2nd batter faced even though he never pitched to him?

    #2) Runners on 2nd & 3rd & two outs. Ground ball specialist comes in and intentionally walks a batter to set up the DP. Intentional ball 4 gets away from the catcher, guy on 3rd gets thrown out trying to score. Pitcher intentionally walked the batter, but runner was caught advancing after ball 4, presumably before the batter gets to first. Does the walk still count?

  31. nightfly Says:

    I don't care if Pujols is the MLB leader in GIDP... he still hits more homers than double plays.

  32. Chris Says:


    Why are you intentionally walking somebody to set up a double play when you have two outs already?

  33. Jim Says:


    Good point. The DP really wasn't the point of the scenarios though. Let's say you were intentionally walking a big bat instead to load the bases and those scenarios occurred.

    Would the pitcher be credited with a 2nd batter faced if he picked the runner off before throwing a pitch to the second batter?

    And would the IBB count if the runner on 3rd was thrown out trying to advance on a wild pitch on ball 4?