Ryan Perry’s Implosion

Here at FanGraphs, we describe a relief outing as a “meltdown” if it results in a -0.06 WPA or worse. By that definition, Ryan Perry‘s -.819 WPA performance in the 8th inning of last night’s Tigers-Mariners game was certainly a meltdown. Perry entered with the score 4-1, and when he left the Mariners had a 5-4 lead they would not relinquish.

Perry only recorded one out in the inning, and he allowed five hits, including a home run, and allowed four earned runs. According to Pitch F/X data, nothing looked off with Perry’s stuff. He was simply the victim of poor location and some hard hit baseballs.

The inning started with an incredibly patient at bat from Franklin Gutierrez. The stellar center fielder took five straight pitches on or around the outside corner before singling on a belt high fastball right down the middle.

After striking out Milton Bradley, Perry was set to face a string of right handed batters in Mike Sweeney, Jose Lopez, and if necessary Rob Johnson and Josh Wilson. Given that only Sweeney had an above average ZiPS RoS projection entering the game and the other three hitters had projected wOBAs below .305, the stage appeared to be set for Perry to work his way around a leadoff single.

Of course, that’s not what happened. The first pitch to Mike Sweeney was a slider that didn’t do much and stayed right in the middle of the strike zone. Sweeney crushed it for his 6th home run of the season. The Tigers still held the lead at that point, at 4-3. With one out already recorded and three weak, same-handed hitters coming up, Perry was set up for success.

Instead, the Mariners quickly began another rally. Jose Lopez singled on another miss over the heart of the plate. Still, at this point the Tigers’ win probability was at 28.9%, and still the matchups were very favorable to Perry. Rob Johnson battled against Perry, bringing the count to full, and hitting another belt-high fastball – this time, closer to the inside corner, although pitch 4 missed badly and was fouled off.

Johnson’s double moved Jose Lopez to third base. The Tigers still held the lead, but the Mariners’ win probability was finally bumped over 50% to 53.4%. It was improbably that Perry and the Tigers would get out of the jam, but odds were good that they would limit the damage to only one run and keep the game at least tied. Such dreams were smashed when shortstop Josh Wilson singled on another ball down the middle. This pitch was down below the strike zone, but Wilson still managed to line it to left field for what would turn out to be the game-winning RBIs.

Perry has good stuff – his fastball averages over 95 MPH and he also uses a slider and a changeup (sparingly). Even at 95+, though, location is key against major league hitters. Ryan Perry repeatedly missed down the middle of the strike zone on Wednesday night, and as a result Mariners hitters – including a weak string of right handers – hammered him for line drive hit after line drive hit.

This has to be one of the more painful losses of the Tigers season, as they had a 94.1% chance of winning at one point and an 88.3% chance of winning when Perry’s inning began. At least they’re squarely in contention, only one game back of Minnesota. And at least they have Justin Verlander.

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11 Responses to “Ryan Perry’s Implosion”

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  1. Rich says:

    Was there no one else in the bullpen? It seems to me that when a relief pitcher gives up a couple of runs on pitches right over the heart of the plate, the manager should notice this stuff, and pull the guy.

    Its nice to think hes going to work through it, but thats only a reasonable expectation if balls are dropping on weak hits, not when hanging offspeed stuff is getting crushed.

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  2. Matt C says:

    Terrible managing in that game by Leyland in my opinion. Bonderman was cruising at that point and only threw like 90 pitches. Why take him out when he was looking so good? Especially with the way the Tigers BP has been overworked this year.

    Then if you are going to take him out why not go to your best setup guy Joel Zumaya when he was ready to pitch? What manager passes up his best guy when he’s ready to pitch and it is his role which is an 8th inning setup guy?

    Then even if you pass on Zumaya that time why do you continue to let Perry pitch after he gave up like 3 hard hit balls including a HR? It was obvious he was a little off so why let him implode like that? Again especially with Zumaya already warmed up and ready.

    As a Tigers fan I was screaming at the TV the entire inning. Kudos to Mariners for taking advantage but I really think Leyland’s decisions helped them win the game. Oh well it was a tough loss but they’ve won a few games this year where the odds were stacked against them so it evens itself out.

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  3. Kev says:

    “Still, at this point the Tigers’ win probability was at 28.9%, and still the matchups were very favorable to Perry”

    Don’t you mean the Mariners had that WP?

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  4. Greg says:

    I really disagree. If you watch the video, he painted the black the entire AB against Guti, who hit a fastball at the upper edge of the zone for the single. Sweeney hit the HR on a slider that would’ve been called a ball if he had spit on it. Lopez: pitch is down early in count. Johnson gets maybe the one cookie of the inning, but that’s after he works Perry to a 7-pitch at bat. Wilson’s 2-run single was golfed off the ground.

    Don’t fall into the broken-record trap announcers always do when some dude smokes a ball (“Fastball, middle of the plate” or “hanging breaking ball, middle of the plate”). GIve hitters some credit now and then. Sometimes, they do hit pitchers’ pitches.

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  5. Jeff says:

    Leyland is the worst manager in baseball when it comes to managing his pitching staff..

    He refuses to pull a reliever when they are struggling, and only will pull them for platoon advantages… Since it was all right handers coming up, Leyland would have let Perry give up home run after home run…

    The Tigers lost probably 10 games last year because of situations exactally like this, where a reliever gave up a few runs but still had a lead and Jim left them in to implode and lose the game…

    If just one of those games was won last year, the Tigers would have been playing baseball into mid-October…

    Leyland plays the game like it is 1975, and the only thing that matters is a platoon advantage…

    He is one of the best at keeping a happy clubhouse and having his players play hard.. but he is horrible at in game managing.. he also has horrible assistants… our hitting coach is so bad Magglio and Polanco had to go to Toledo last year to get hitting instruction…

    The Tigers have some talent, and could have been a playoff team last year if not for our manager…

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    • Matt C says:

      I agree 100%, Leyland is so overrated here in Detroit. Most people here think he’s the greatest thing since sliced bread. Anytime I call him out I hear people say “We were nothing before he got here.” Well the talent level wasn’t the same before he got here.

      People cite the miracle run to the World Series in 2006 as a crowning achievement but look at the players he had that year vs. what was there the year before. He had Kenny Rogers, Verlander, Zumaya, Granderson, a more seasoned Bonderman, A healthy Ordonez(missed over half of 05), a healthy Guillen(missed half of 05 too), a dominant Joel Zumaya and despite him not being flashy and putting up the best saber stats he had an adequate closer in Todd Jones. Not to mention he got a career year from guys like Inge and Robertson.

      Then once they made the playoffs they won because Kenny Rogers pitched like Sandy Koufax and Bonderman was lights out. Again thats something that Leyland had little to no control over. It wasn’t like his managing got them there.

      Plus if people are going to bring up 2006 for him being good because the Tigers weren’t expected to do much how bout bringing up 2007 and 2008? Both years they were picked by most experts to win the division and both years they didn’t and in 08 when alot of people picked them to win the whole thing they finished dead last. So if he’s going to get praised for 06 he should get criticized for those years.

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      • Matt C says:

        Also in 3 of the last 4 years the Tigers had led the division in late August or later and all 3 of those times they choked it way. In 2 of those years they choked away huge leads and lost them on the final day. Most managers would be fired if they did that but not Leyland, he is still treated like a God.

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