More on the Richards-Cantillon Gambit (Guest Report!)
by Bob Timmermann
Today, a special guest report from James Ashenhurst, whom most of you know as Johnny Nucleo. He's an organic chemistry postdoc fellow by day at MIT and a guy who can appreciate a manager who moves a relief pitcher to the outfield temporarily. Here's his report:
Your post from last month about Bobby Cox moving a pitcher to the outfield and
back again got me wondering how often managers have pulled this little move. I
remembered that Whitey Herzog had done it a few times with Todd Worrell, and
commenter John O'Connor recounted that Kent Tekulve was switched to the
outfield in a 1979 game. Because I am strangely attracted to unusual baseball
phenomena, a trait undoubtedly shared by the Griddle's author, to say
nothing of his many readers, I thought I would try to find all the examples
where this had been done in the past 30 years or so. I self-centeredly chose
1979 as my starting point because: 1) that is where my living memory of baseball
begins, and 2) I really have a limited patience for digging through fielding
statistics. I found these events by looking for outfielders in the BR fielding
index for each year that had 5 or fewer innings in the field. Pitchers usually
stick out like a sore thumb. Since 1979, I found twelve instances where this
switch had been done. So here they are:
Sept 1, 1979.
The Pittsburgh Pirates were leading 5-3 over the Giants in the bottom of the 9th
with two out and Kent Tekulve on the mound. Giants first baseman Jack Clark
reached first on a bunt single. Pirates manager Chuck Tanner then moved Tekulve
to left field, replacing John Milner, and brought in lefty Grant Jackson to face
the left-handed batting Darrell Evans. Evans flied out to left field, where
Tekulve made the catch to end the game.
August 3, 1980.
The Boston Red Sox were leading 6-4 in the bottom of the 9th over the Texas
Rangers. Boston?s Tom Burgmeier pitching with two out, allowed a single to
Jim Sundberg. Seeking the platoon advantage against right-handed batting Texas
shortstop Dave Roberts, manager Don Zimmer brought in righty Skip Lockwood to
pitch. Burgmeier moved to left field, replacing Jim Rice. Under rule 6.10, this
move caused the Red Sox to lose the use of a designated hitter for the rest of
the game, as Lockwood replaced DH Gary Allenson on the scoresheet. It didn't
matter: Roberts fouled out to Carlton Fisk, ending the game.
June 24, 1986.
With a 5-2 lead versus the Pittsburgh Pirates, Cardinals pitcher Pat Perry was
one out away from a save when third baseman Terry Pendleton mishandled Jim
Morrison?s ground ball, allowing Morrison to reach first. After Perry allowed
a single to U.L. Washington, Cardinals manager Whitey Herzog brought in closer
Todd Worrell to face outfielder Mike Diaz, who loaded the bases with another
single. Herzog then moved Worrell to RF and brought in lefty Ken Dayley to face
21-year old Pirates rookie (and leadoff batter) Barry Bonds. Bonds struck out,
ending the game.
Three days later, on June 27, 1986,
Herzog pulled the same move in an extra-inning game versus the Phillies. In the
12th inning with the score tied 1-1, Worrell allowed back-to-back two out
singles by Steve Jeltz and Milt Thompson. Herzog moved Worrell to right field,
replacing Tito Landrum, and brought in Ricky Horton to face Phillies
pinch-hitter Greg Gross. Horton forced Gross to ground to short for the third
out. Horton pitched the next inning (Worrell was pinch-hit for) and the
Phillies eventually won it in the 17th, 2-1.
The Mets and Reds played a controversial extra-inning game on this date that
probably remains the most distinctive use of pitchers in the outfield in recent
memory. The Mets were one out away from a 3-1 loss when Dave Parker dropped
Keith Hernandez's fly ball near the right field warning track, allowing two
runs to score and sending the game to the bottom of the ninth, and then to
extra innings. In the bottom of the 10th with one out, Jesse Orosco struck out
Eddie Milner. Eric Davis, running for Pete Rose, and who had already stole
second, was running on the pitch, and stole third base. When he arrived
safely, Davis appeared to push Mets 3B Ray Knight and then elbowed him. Knight
threw a punch at Davis, grazing the side of his face, and the benches emptied.
When the smoke cleared, Knight and Davis had been ejected, along with Kevin
Mitchell and Mario Soto. Short of players [Darryl Strawberry had also been
ejected earlier protesting a called 3rd strike], the Mets were forced to put
Gary Carter at third base, and move Jesse Orosco to right field. Roger McDowell
came in to pitch for the Mets. Orosco and McDowell would alternate between the
outfield and the pitcher's mound over the next four innings, and Orosco even
made a putout, catching Tony Perez's fly ball in the 13th. Reds manager Pete
Rose protested the game when Orosco was given the customary eight pitches to
warm up after having been brought in from the outfield. Rose argued that Orosco
had pitched earlier in the game, and should not be allowed the warm ups.
Finally, Howard Johnson won the game for the Mets in the 14th inning with a
3-run home run off Ted Power. Roger McDowell got the win. "This is the
strangest game I've been involved in," said Mets manager Davey Johnson
after the game. The 10th inning brawl was the fourth that the Mets were
involved in that season. Such a loveable team, really.
October 1, 1986.
Chuck Tanner pulled this move a second time during a meaningless game in early
October 1986 before 2,992 hardy Braves fans. Nursing a 4-3 lead in the top of
the seventh inning versus the Cincinnati Reds, the Braves? Jeff Dedmon was
facing Dave Parker with runners on 1st and 2nd and two out. Parker was a
dangerous hitter who would hit 31 home runs for the Reds that season. Atlanta
manager Tanner switched Dedmon to left field (replacing Darryl Motley) so he
could bring in lefty Paul Assenmacher. Parker promptly laced a single up the
middle to score Kurt Stillwell, tying the game. Dedmon was then moved back to
pitch to Eric Davis, who flied out to end the inning. The Braves went on to
June 17, 1987.
Giants manager Roger Craig moved LHP Keith Comstock to right field (replacing
Mike Aldrete) with one out in the bottom of the 7th with the Giants down 2-1 to
the Braves. Righty Randy Bockus was brought in to pitch to Braves slugger Dale
Murphy (in what would be his last MVP-caliber season). Murphy proceeded to
drill Bockus' offering out of the park, giving the Braves a 2-run lead.
Comstock was then brought out of the outfield to pitch, and was removed after
giving up back-to-back singles to Ken Griffey and Andres Thomas. The Braves
went on to score a total of four runs that inning, and won, 6-1.
September 22, 1987,
Whitey Herzog watched closer Todd Worrell give up a leadoff home run to Mike
Schmidt in the bottom of the 9th to cut the Cardinals lead over the Phillies
to 3-1. Worrell was moved to RF, replacing Lance Johnson, with lefty Ken Dayley
coming in to pitch to Von Hayes. Dayley struck Hayes out, and Worrell then moved
back from the outfield to retire Rick Schu and Darren Daulton for the save.
Herzog would pull this move for the fourth and final time on April 11, 1989,
again with Worrell and Dayley. Facing the Cubs with the score tied 4-4 in
the top of the ninth, Worrell was brought in to face Ryne Sandberg after Jose
Deleon allowed back-to-back walks to Jerome Walton and Mitch Webster. Worrell
forced Sandberg to foul out, but not before a daring double steal had moved the
runners to 2nd and 3rd. Worrell intentionally walked Andre Dawson to load the
bases. Ken Dayley was brought in to face Mark Grace; Worrell was moved to
right field, while RF Tom Brunansky moved to 1B to replace Pedro Guerrero.
Grace hit an infield grounder that Cardinals backup 2B Tim Jones could not
convert for a double play [Ozzie Smith missed the first 7 games of the season,
forcing regular 2B Jose Oquendo to fill in for him at SS], allowing Jerome
Walton to score. The Cubs won, 5-4.
June 13, 1990
This wild Cubs-Mets game saw Don Zimmer pull the Richards-Cantillion with
disastrous results. With the Cubs up 8-5 in the top of the 7th, reliever Les
Lancaster gave up consecutive base hits to Dave Magadan, Howard Johnson, and
Darryl Strawberry. After striking out Tom O'Malley, Lancaster allowed a
single to Kevin McReynolds that scored a run. The bases loaded, Paul
Assenmacher was then brought in to face Daryl Boston, with Lancaster moving to
LF to replace Doug Dascenzo. Assenmacher allowed the Mets to tie the game as
Boston hit a single to right field, scoring Johnson and Strawberry. After
another run-scoring single from Mackey Sasser and a walk to Gregg Jeffries to
load the bases, Lancaster was brought back in from purgatory in right field.
Lancaster got the next two batters to fly out, but the Mets scored another run
when Boston scored on Kevin Elster's sacrifice fly to make it 10-8. The Cubs
would tie it up in the bottom of the 8th, but the Mets came back with 5 in the
top of the ninth to win 15-10.
The last time this switch would be pulled in the 1990s was by Dodgers
manager Tommy Lasorda in the midst of a tight pennant race on Oct 1, 1991.
In the bottom of the 9th inning in a game versus the Padres, with the Dodgers up
3-1 thanks to a strong outing by Bob Ojeda, Tommy Lasorda moved reliever Roger
McDowell to left field (replacing Chris Gwynn) so that lefty specialist John
Candelaria could pitch to Fred McGriff. Candelaria struck McGriff out. Stan
Javier came in to play LF, and McDowell retired the next two batters to seal
the win 3-1. It was the Dodgers' last day in sole possession of 1st place.
They would go on to lose three of their next four games, and finished one game
back of Atlanta for top place in the NL West.
April 3, 2008.
This was recounted last month, Bobby Cox made this switch in the 10th inning
of a 3-3 game between the Braves and Pirates. With one out and runners on first
and third, Cox moved P Chris Resop to left field, replacing Matt Diaz. Royce
Ring came in to pitch to the Pirates Adam LaRoche, who struck out. Things fell
apart for Resop when he moved back from the outfield to face Xavier Nady: he
allowed a single to center field, scoring Nyjer Morgan. The Pirates would win
So to summarize - over the last 30 years, I count 12 occasions where managers
have pulled a Richards/Cantillon. 11 out of 12 were in the National League,
probably due to the restrictions of the DH rule. The switching pitcher got an
out in 9 out of the 12 occasions, for a 75% "success rate." Whitey Herzog
pulled this move 4 times, with Chuck Tanner and Don Zimmer doing it twice each.
In general, managers used this move in close games in order to gain the platoon
advantage against a dangerous opposition batter. The one exception would
probably be Davey Johnson's 1986 example, which was more out of desperation
than anything else.
Bob, if you can have a catchers interference alarm, maybe I should
request a Richards-Cantillon alarm. Considering that Cox's move on
April 3 was the first time in 17 years that anyone had done this, I trust this
would not involve an undue amount of work for anybody. Hopefully, in 40 years
or so I will have accumulated enough data on this "gambit" to draw some
meaningful conclusions (or conclusions that can be passed off as such), and in
my dotage can make a grand presentation at the 2048 SABR convention. I'm
looking forward to it.
Sources: Retrosheet, The New York Times