Posted by John Autin on July 4, 2011
- Starting pitcher is removed in the 5th inning with a 1-run lead, 1 out and a runner on 1st base.
- Reliever A strikes out the next 2 batters to end the inning and preserve the 1-run lead.
- The leading team adds 6 runs in their next turn at bat, forging a 7-run lead.
- Reliever A pitches the 6th inning and allows 2 walks and a 3-run HR. He's removed at the end of the inning with his team leading by 4 runs. His final line: 1.2 IP, 1 hit, 3 ER, 2 BB, 4 SO.
- The leading team pads the lead to 8 runs in their next time up.
- Relievers B and C allow no runs in stints of 1 and 2 innings, respectively.
I have reproduced the relevant section of Rule 10.17 below. (I omitted paragraphs (d) and (e), which have absolutely no bearing on this situation.) Note especially the comment on 10.17(b), which emphasizes that the first reliever should not automatically get credit for the win, if a later reliever pitches more effectively; but this comment also says that the scorer should consider "the context of the game at the time of each relief pitcher's appearance."
Although Relievers B and C were clearly more effective <em>on a ratio basis</em>, Reliever A had by far the highest leverage, coming in with the tying run on base and 1 out. The other guys each pitched with an 8-run lead.
Who deserves the win? The official scorer gave it to Reliever A. My first reaction was shock -- how can a reliever who give 3 runs while getting 5 outs be considered more effective than relievers who allowed no runs? But upon reflection, I'm inclined to agree with him, because of the leverage issue. What do you think? Let the arguments begin!
10.17 Winning And Losing Pitcher
(a) The official scorer shall credit as the winning pitcher that pitcher whose team assumes a lead while such pitcher is in the game, or during the inning on offense in which such pitcher is removed from the game, and does not relinquish such lead, unless
(1) such pitcher is a starting pitcher and Rule 10.17(b) applies; or
(2) Rule 10.17(c) applies.
Rule 10.17(a) Comment: Whenever the score is tied, the game becomes a new contest insofar as the winning pitcher is concerned. Once the opposing team assumes the lead, all pitchers who have pitched up to that point and have been replaced are excluded from being credited with the victory. If the pitcher against whose pitching the opposing team gained the lead continues to pitch until his team regains the lead, which it holds to the finish of the game, that pitcher shall be the winning pitcher.
(b) If the pitcher whose team assumes a lead while such pitcher is in the game, or during the inning on offense in which such pitcher is removed from the game, and does not relinquish such lead, is a starting pitcher who has not completed
(1) five innings of a game that lasts six or more innings on defense, or
(2) four innings of a game that lasts five innings on defense, then the official scorer shall credit as the winning pitcher the relief pitcher, if there is only one relief pitcher, or the relief pitcher who, in the official scorers judgment was the most effective, if there is more than one relief pitcher.
Rule 10.17(b) Comment: It is the intent of Rule 10.17(b) that a relief pitcher pitch at least one complete inning or pitch when a crucial out is made, within the context of the game (including the score), in order to be credited as the winning pitcher. If the first relief pitcher pitches effectively, the official scorer should not presumptively credit that pitcher with the win, because the rule requires that the win be credited to the pitcher who was the most effective, and a subsequent relief pitcher may have been most effective. The official scorer, in determining which relief pitcher was the most effective, should consider the number of runs, earned runs and base runners given up by each relief pitcher and the context of the game at the time of each relief pitchers appearance. If two or more relief pitchers were similarly effective, the official scorer should give the presumption to the earlier pitcher as the winning pitcher.
(c) The official scorer shall not credit as the winning pitcher a relief pitcher who is ineffective in a brief appearance, when at least one succeeding relief pitcher pitches effectively in helping his team maintain its lead. In such a case, the official scorer shall credit as the winning pitcher the succeeding relief pitcher who was most effective, in the judgment of the official scorer.
Rule 10.17(c) Comment: The official scorer generally should, but is not required to, consider the appearance of a relief pitcher to be ineffective and brief if such relief pitcher pitches less than one inning and allows two or more earned runs to score (even if such runs are charged to a previous pitcher). Rule 10.17(b) Comment provides guidance on choosing the winning pitcher from among several succeeding relief pitchers.