Wade & Johnson v. The Process | The Process Report

Wade & Johnson v. The Process

For the Tampa Bay Rays, Cory Wade was the one that got away. Cory Wade was the one who slipped through the process. Yet, it was Cory Wade who help save the Tampa Bay Rays season.

The decision to keep Andy Sonnnastine and release Cory Wade in June is still an example of a smart team exhibiting a bad process. Meanwhile, for at least one historic night, the result bested the process. Trailing by one run with two outs and no men on base, the Rays had a 4.2% chance of winning against the New York Yankees. With the team needing a miracle, Rays’ manager Joe Maddon called upon the miracle maker on his bench.

After hitting memorable home runs as a reserve with the Rays, Dan Johnson entered the season as the team’s primary first baseman. Johnson responded by hitting .115/.179/.167 in his first 84 plate appearances. Perhaps with a larger sample size, Johnson would have righted the ship and have a production season; however, Johnson’s slide coincided with the beginning of Casey Kotchman’s magical season. In mid-May, the then reigning International League Most Valueable Player was back in Triple-A playing for the Durham Bulls.

Cory Wade was also a member of the 2011 Durham Bulls. Unlike Johnson, Wade started the season in the minors and earned his way to the major leagues; albeit as a member of the New York Yankees. Coming into play Wednesday, Wade was 6-1 with a 1.85 ERA/3.44 FIP/3.75 xFIP in 39 appearances. A non-roster invitee in spring training, Wade earned 0.5 WAR in 39 innings of middle relief work.

Part of Wade’s value to the Yankees is effectiveness against left-handed batters. Yes, he
has allowed four home runs to lefties in a small sample size this season; however, he has handled his own against the platoon split in his career. A large part of that is due to his changeup.

According to Joe Lefkowitz’s database, Wade threw a changeup to a lefty 41% of the time before his final regular season appearance. Of the left-handed swings attempted on his changeup, 32.8% came up empty. Even when the changeup was put it play, it was usually on the ground with minimal damage. Keyword is usually.

Former minor-league teammates in the Tampa Bay system, Johnson and Wade would face off with the Rays big-league season on the line. For Wade, the appearance was about getting one more outing in before the postseason. For Johnson, it was perhaps the last major-league at-bat he would see for the foreseeable future.

After falling behind 1-2 in the count, the left-handed Johnson took Wade’s changeup for ball two. Johnson fouled off a four-seam fastball to extend Tampa Bay’s season for at least one more pitch. On the sixth pitch of the plate appearance, Wade went for the kill with another changeup. Good process, poor execution, bad result. Wade hung the 83 mph offering over the middle of the plate. With a flick of the wrist, Johnson wrapped the pitch just inside the right field foul pole to tie the game. The rest is history.

Looking ahead to the playoffs, Cory Wade will be on the Yankees’ postseason roster. Barring injury, Johnson will not experience the playoffs as an active member of the Rays’ roster. In this sense, the process will overcome; however, for one night the result was undeniable.

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