Game-Changer: Matt Joyce's Game-Tying Double | The Process Report

Game-Changer: Matt Joyce’s Game-Tying Double

After Tuesday’s win against the Boston Red Sox, I spoke about how – in certain instances – we will use both win expectancy (WE) and leverage index (LI) to help quantify what we feel is a game-changing play. Tonight is another example of that. While Matt Joyce’s two-run double did not have the biggest impact in terms of WE – that belong to Johnny Damon’s walked which moved the team’s chances of winning from 19% to 100% – it came in arguably the biggest moment.

Many came into 2011 counting on Joyce to be an important piece of the Rays offense. After going 1-20 over the first seven games, even the staunchest supporters of Joyce had to wonder what was wrong. Thinking along the same lines, R.J. went through the process and ensured us that Matthew Joyce was fine. With a three hits tonight, Joyce is 6-13 in his last three games and finally gaining some favor from the luck dragons.

In what he described as a roller coaster came in the locker room, Joyce saved his best hit of the early season for the ninth inning against Joe Nathan. As mentioned in The Process Versus Twins pitchers, Joe Nathan was a legitimate relief ace before Tommy John Surgery. Regardless of the batter’s hand, Nathan could get them out. That said, Nathan’s velocity since returning is a work in progress. Pre-injury, Nathan would live in the mid-90s with his fastball. However, now he is maxing out around 92 MPH.

For all the talk about Joyce facing more left-handers this season, we know he can hit right-handers and fastballs. In what leverage index pegs as the most important at-bat of the game (4.53 LI narrowly edge’s Damon’s 4.52) Joyce got a low 90s fastball on a 3-1 pitch from the right arm of Joe Nathan. With runners on the move, the lefty deposited the heater into the gap in right-center field for a two-run, game-tying double.

Once more, Damon’s hit was the game-clincher. A 364-foot two-run shot that sent everyone home – or to bed – happy. Meanwhile, without Joyce’s uber-clutch double at the most pivotal point of the game, there are late-inning heroics to be had.