Charlie Manuel frequently makes poor strategic decisions. The 11-million dollar scoreboard in left field would probably do a similar job. We guarantee a post analyzing Manuel's decisions for every Phillies game. Please click on our aliases below to email us.

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95% Phillies, 4% Eagles/Flyers/Sixers/Big Five, 1% Nonsense .... Contact us: Scott Graham ~ Andy Musser

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Game 140: Manuel decides to forfeit (76-64)

Thanks to the managaer, the Phillies can sweep the Mets up at Shea and the Mets will still be in first place.

Manuel was doing fine all night until he allowed Chad Durbin to pitch to Ronnie Belliard in a tie game with runners on first and third in the 8th inning. There was only one out, and Durbin had thrown 24 pitches already after appearing in last night's game and throwing 33 pitches two days before that. He was clearly gassed after allowing a home run and 3 singles in tonight's game. Durbin recorded only two outs, one of which was a sacrafice bunt attempt. Why, then, would Manuel allow Durbin to pitch with the go-ahead run on third and only one out? Durbin shockingly allowed a single to Belliard to give the Nats a lead they never lost. Then, always a batter or two late, Manuel emerged from the dugout.

After Belliard were two switch-hitters. Despite J.C. Romero's AWFUL numbers against righties, Manuel decided to allow Romero pitch to the top 2 hitters in the Nats' lineup, both batting right-handed. Romero walked the first batter to load the bases with only one out, which is not surprising since over 2/3 of Romero's walks come against right-handers. Then, even though the bases were loaded with only one out, and even though Romero lets righties reach base 42.7% of their plate appearances, Manuel decided the best option was to let Romero face another righthander. To nobody's surprise except Uncle Charlie, Romero allowed a 3-run double that put the game out of reach.

I just highlighted 3 ABs that led to 4 Nationals' runs. The first AB came when the score was still tied. If Manuel used Brad Lidge, instead of Durbin, to face Belliard, the Phillies odds of winning the game would have increased exponentially. With first and third with only one out, a strikeout is a premium in that situation. Lidge strikes out righties at a 28% rate. Durbin, only 18%. And, remember, Durbin is 24 pitches deep and Lidge is fresh. So, the odds of getting out of that inning unscathed probably double if Manuel uses Lidge. GOD FORBID HE USES LIDGE IN A TIE GAME. I mean, Jesus Christ, Lidge pitched in a 4-0 game last night! The odds of the Nats winning a game down 4-0 going into the ninth are 1.4%. The odds of the Nats winning a game tied, in the 8th, with runners on first and third with one out are 77.1%.

Manuel could have fixed his mistake by bringing Lidge into the game instead of Romero. Lidge would have had a much much better chance of retiring two lefties than Romero. It sure would have been nice to have Lidge keep the score 6-5 going into the ninth, just in case the Phils scored 2 runs or something.

Let's use the best closer the Phils have ever had when its 4-0 in the ninth, but leave him on the bench when it's 5-5 in a high-leverage situation. This team is a mess, and the finger should be pointed directly at Charlie Manuel.

I will end this post with a quote from Mr. Graham made no more than 24 hours ago:

"Even if people insist he can only go one inning, a looming threat in the 8th is much more important than bases empty in the 9th."

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