Game 1 of the World Series kicks off tonight at 7:57 p.m. Just like the last two playoff series, Barry Zito will be left off of the Giants roster. Hardball Talk's Aaron Gleeman contributes this to the story:
"There was some speculation that Zito could be added to the World Series roster in place of reliever Guillermo Mota, who went unused in the first two rounds, but apparently manager Bruce Bochy thinks a superfluous right-handed middle reliever is more useful than the veteran left-hander who made $18.5 million this season as part of a seven-year, $126 million deal that runs through 2013...Zito put together a strong first half, going 8-4 with a 3.51 ERA, but fell apart down the stretch with a 1-8 record and 6.80 ERA in his final 10 outings. He also hasn’t pitched since October 2 and Madison Bumgarner has clearly emerged as the Giants’ fourth starter, so aside from perhaps making Zito feel better about himself or making the $126 million seem like slightly less of a disaster there was no real reason to add him."A couple of things. First of all, I understand the Giants' apprehension at having Barry Zito on the roster. As Gleeman pointed out, he was 1-8 with a 6.80 ERA over his last ten starts. This wasn't just a simple case of bad luck either. During that run, Zito put up a 32/27 K/BB ratio with a flyball heavy 0.64 GB/FB ratio. Those are some ugly indicators. He earned that stat line. Secondly, I understand their rationale for leaving Zito off of the World Series roster, especially since he was left off of the roster for the first two series. Starting pitchers are used to pitching on some sort of schedule, and at this point, Zito hasn't pitched in 25 days.
That said, Bochy has chosen to leave Zito off of the roster in favor of a pitcher (Mota) that he hasn't used this entire postseason. Just based on value alone, Zito was far more valuable as a starter (2.1 WAR) than Mota was out of the bullpen (0.3 WAR). Moving Zito to the bullpen at the start of the playoffs would've given the Giants (1) a long reliever to help save the bullpen in blowout situations; (2) added a second left handed pitcher to the bullpen that would given the Giants a platoon advantage against some left handed hitters; and (3) greater balance out of a right handed dominated bullpen. Furthermore, it's likely that Zito would've been more effective coming out of the bullpen (than as a starter) because he would've been able to focus on throwing his two strongest pitches (fastball and curve), rather than have to worry about pacing himself and mixing pitches.
Mota, a garden variety right handed relief pitcher, is rotting away on the bullpen pine. It should be noted that he also has not pitched since October 2nd, mostly because there are better right handed options out of the bullpen. This leads me to not only wonder about his ability to pitch effectively in the World Series, but also question Bruce Bochy's ability to manage his postseason roster.