It's time for another episode of What the Mills? where we examine decisions made by Brad Mills (full disclaimer: We haven't examined any that worked out. We'll get better about that.)
The Situation: Two outs, bottom of the 6th, 2-2 game.
The Set-Up: Houston tied up the game on Chris Johnson's single to right in the top half of the inning, also with two outs. Kyle Weiland comes in for the bottom half of the 6th inning having thrown 72 pitches. He strikes out Xavier Nady (76 pitches) and allows a first-pitch single to Rick Ankiel (77 pitches). Wilson Ramos flies out to center (80 pitches), and pinch-hitter Roger Bernadina walks (85 pitches). Ian Desmond comes up with two outs, runners on 1st and 2nd, and he draws a walk, as well (91 pitches). Brad Mills leaves Weiland in to face Steve Lombardozzi, who doubles, scoring two runs, and Ryan Zimmerman, as well, who singles, scdoring two more - giving the Nationals all they need to close out the game.
The Question: Why leave Weiland in?
Rationale #1: In a situation similar to Josh Bard in Boston, Mills wanted to see him work out of his own jam.
Rationale #2: Weiland was due to hit 2nd in the top of the 7th, so if he can just get that last out, they can pinch-hit him with Justin Maxwell and hope for the best.
Rationale #3: There is no rationale. Lombardozzi was 3x3 (all singles) off Weiland. Zimmerman walked, grounded into a double play, and struck out in his three PAs - but it was 4-2 at that point. Lombardozzi had only ever faced Bud Norris, Lucas Harrell, and Fernando Rodriguez before, and was 0x5. We can't look at Weiland's splits for guidance, because they're pretty much all ugly. Even if you're okay with Weiland pitching to Lombardozzi, there's really no good answer for who pitches to Zimmerman. He was 25x98 against ten Astros pitchers, with an OPS over 1.000 against five of them. Zimmerman was 0x2 against against Fernando Rodriguez (so maybe Rodriguez could have come in against both Rodriguez and Zimmerman?)
The Verdict: It's hard to say. But Weiland was clearly sputtering, having allowed four straight Nationals to reach base and break the game open. Whether it's in the name of development, or just a bad thought process, Weiland was out there at least one batter too long.