Following my review of Paul Nauert's performance in the Braves game on Wednesday, I really didn't want to have to write about another horrible umpire. I don't want this blog to come across as a bitch-fest from a bitter Dodger fan... but Mike Winters had a ridiculously bad game as well. It started in the third, and then got really bad in the sixth and seventh innings. Here is the funny part though; Mike Winters was actually worse for the Cardinals last night. His Game Scores indicate that he missed/made four more calls for the Cards than the Dodgers in the Adjusted strike-zone. The main take-away here should be his total of -14 for teams combined in the Adjusted Strike-Zone. That means he incorrectly called around fourteen pitches in the generally accepted strike-zone. Let's review: The first really bad string was Lackey versus Pederson in the third inning: First he gave Lackey a beneficial call on strike one:
Winters apparently felt he missed that call and decided to make it up with "ball" four:
The miss gave the Dodgers a baserunner. Joc would not score, but there was a negative effect on the game. The AB had a very low LI of 0.72. Notice that Joc's reaction was to immediately head towards first base. Apparently Mike Winters is heavily influenced by reactions - as noted by his comments to A.J. Ellis during his ejection from the game. More below. The very next pitch, to Rollins, was technically a strike although I am not surprised Lackey did not get the call as he missed across the entire plate. Still a miss from Winters however:
The next bad miss from Winters was in the bottom of the third, on this first pitch to Girchuk from Bolsinger:
This is a very good example of what other blogs mean when they talk about Ellis' framing abilities. There is no reason that this should not have been a strike. Winters missed the call, but Ellis did not help Bolsinger the way he received the pitch. This miss put Girchuk up in the count and he eventually doubled and knocked in a run. It had a LI of 1.10.
This pitch was called a strike to Rollins in the sixth:
Notice Rollins' reaction. This Cardinal gift took the count to 2-2 instead of 3-1. Rollins would end up doubling. ABLI1.41
Then came Molina's AB in the bottom of the sixth. First pitch:
This seemed to be the beginning of Ellis' frustration. Then came pitch 3:
Molina would end up grounding out, but not without a bonus of two extra chances from Winters. And then in the seventh... Strike 3 to Ethier was in the Strike-Zone and Winters got it right, but it was on the edge and added to the Dodgers frustration with him since Bolsinger was not getting calls in the same location:
Here is "ball" 4 to Carpenter - the pitch that finally put A.J. over the edge:
Notice the location of this "ball" compared to "strike" 3 to Ethier above. A.J. would get tossed by Winters for "arguing balls and strikes". According to A.J. in a post-game interview, Winters told him his "presentation was lacking," essentially saying that he wasn't framing properly. A.J.'s ability (or lack thereof) to frame pitches aside, it is Winters job to judge if a pitch crossed the plate in the strike-zone and call it accordingly, NOT if the catcher did a good job or not. Framing is a talent to sway the umpire's perception of location, not a skill to be judged. Mike Winters called a very bad game and although the Game Score's would indicate a game that favored the Dodgers, the pitches that he missed came in more crucial situations and ended up having a direct impact on a run scored by the Cardinals (Girchuk's RBI double). His comments to A.J. about his "presentation" show a fundamental flaw in his thinking of what his job is exactly. I have a big problem with THAT more-so than his horrible performance behind the plate.
Close Calls & Reviews:
In the seventh inning the Dodgers challenged a safe call at second from umpire Marty Foster after Kolton Wong stole second. It was a very close play, and Wong seemed to have possibly come off the bag during the slide. The Dodgers have been aggressive with their challenges lately, and the results have been a lot of challenges being overruled, or upheld. This was another situation where I didn't really have a problem with the use of a challenge, or can really complain about the ultimate decision. There just wasn't enough there to overturn the call.