Going into an elimination game is not something that could ever be considered easy for any Major League Baseball manager. A few things that have to happen are critical to success in such a game. None are more important than the starting pitcher giving his team a chance to win. That did not happen for the Tampa Bay Rays in ALDS game four against the Boston Red Sox. Jeremy Hellickson was pulled in the second inning three hitters in. Some say it was too fast to pull him but I disagree. Joe Maddon made the right call.
In the situation Hellickson was in; the game could have been over in the second inning with the Red Sox’ powerful line-up and Jake Peavy on the mound. With the move that he made pulling his starter, at least Maddon gave his team a chance at that point. Win or lose from that point forward, they had their chance still because of the gutsy move by their manager. It is nothing against Hellickson but that is the way every manager should treat an elimination game.
He had look at it as if it were the last second inning he would manage this season. Given that reality, Maddon was able to change his mindset and make the tough call when it needed to be made. At least from that point forward the scoring remained close and they had what they needed which was a chance to win for the entire game. Chances are, the way Hellickson was throwing they wouldn’t have even had that chance if Maddon had not of made that move. That is why he was one of the best this season and will be going forward.