My time is beginning to free up just a little bit so I am picking up where I left off in my 1966 NL replay. I have gotten through the month of May so June 1 is on the docket.
The Cubs have a doubleheader with the Phillies on this day and before I even started rolling, it had some oddities. I use actual rotations and lineups so as I fired up Baseball Reference’s actual box scores of the games, I noticed a strange lineup used by the Cubs.
For both games, manager Leo Durocher used Ron Santo at shortstop (a position he started at only 8 times in his career). There goes the Cubs’ defense. Santo’s 3B-5 will instead be a SS-7. So who played thirdbase? It was regular first baseman Ernie Banks who was a 3B-3. Checking Banks’ career stats, I see he did play third base for 58 games in 1957 so he wasn’t entirely unfamiliar with the position. Add to that that sure-gloved Glenn Beckert took the day off. Joey Amalfitano spelled Beckert at second base. The Cubs’ normal Fielding Two defense sunk to Fielding Three.
My theory is that Beckert and shortstop Don Kessinger went on a road trip for the day and the Lip needed to improvise.
But that isn’t what this is about. This is about a pitcher named Gary Wagner.
In 1966, Wagner got a start in Game two for the Phillies. That’s a big deal because it was his only start of 1966 and one of only four of his career. To complicate matters, Wagner pitched in five games for six and third innings.
While I do use actual rotations and lineups, I play loose with relief appearances (though I do try to be realistic). I assume with every player’s card numbers and grades, everything will work out. What happened in my replay of Game two of the doubleheader forced me to throw usage accuracy out the window in favor of realism.
See, Gary Wagner is a grade DRW pitcher. He really shouldn’t have lasted as long as he did in Game two even against the Cubs’ second string lineup. As it turned out, Wags pitched a three-hit shutout against the Northsiders. True to form, he walked five and struck out none.
It occurred to me to artificially limit his innings since he only pitched 6 1/3 for the year. He kept getting stronger though, keeping the Cubs hitless from the fifth inning onward. I’m just not a believer in taking a pitcher out in the middle of a shutout especially in the era of the pitcher like the 60s.
So Gary Wagner has nine innings (and a sweep-clinching win) to his name in my replay and it’s not going to kill my replay. The Phillies bullpen needs the rest anyway.