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John Farrell won’t pull a Showalter with Craig Kimbrel

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John Farrell won’t let tie games slip away while Craig Kimbrel’s still sitting.

MLB: Toronto Blue Jays at Boston Red Sox David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Tuesday night saw the Orioles fall to the Blue Jays in the American League Wild Card Game. Despite the game lasting until extra innings, Zach Britton—a reliever so damn good he’s been getting serious Cy Young consideration—didn’t throw a pitch.

If you can’t figure out why...Well, it’s because you’re not thinking hard enough. Obviously it’s because the Orioles never took the lead and gave Britton a chance to earn the save. But if you can’t figure out why that is the reason given that giving up a run would mean the chance for Britton would never come, well, now you’re thinking quite a bit harder and better than Buck Showalter. And, yes, probably a few too many other managers in the league.

Thankfully, John Farrell isn’t looking to be the guy taking the heat for preserving his closer for an inning that will never come:

So, just to be clear: yes, it’s often correct strategy to use the closer in non-save situations, specifically when tied in extra innings. Sure, you don’t have to go to him right away if you’ve got other viable options. Saving him for the most dangerous inning, for instance, makes some sense. But generally if you’re waiting to take the lead in the 15th before turning to your closer, you’re probably doing it wrong.

With Kimbrel, I’m sure some will point out that non-save situations have had a tendency to turn out a bit...ugly. And that’s been very true this season. But before 2016, Kimbrel held a 1.95 ERA in non-save situations. Still worse than his usual numbers, and also still a whole hell of a lot better than most relievers’ numbers in any situation. As such, it seems likely that Kimbrel turning into Eric Gagne when there’s no save to be had in 2016 is more noise than anything else.

The Sox do still have reason to be a bit concerned given how Kimbrel finished the regular season. But that’s true in any case, not just non-save situations. So long as they’re going to trust him with a 6-4 lead in the ninth, they should trust him with a 2-2 tie in the 10th.