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Sunday, September 21, 2008

Game 155: Phillies win game they usually throw away (87-68)

Charlie Manuel made one main mistake (alliteration) against the Marlins (too far, I know) tonight. Guess what it was? If you responded, "Romero faced two righties," you win a CharliesManuel PrizePack™ complete with two tickets to a future Phillies game*.

Joe Blanton threw 96 pitches through 5 innings, and with 2 outs and the bases loaded in the top of the 6th with the score 3-2 in favor of the Phils, Manuel decided to pinch hit for Blanton. I agree with this move because Blanton likely only had one inning left in him. And, 96 pitches deep, he probably would not be as effective for one inning as a fresh reliever would be. Once you factor in the pinch-hit situation with 2 men in scoring position, the decision becomes much easier. Although, I probably would have burned Andy Tracy in that situation instead of burning Geoff Jenkins (once Jenkins was announced, Fredi Gonzalez made a pitching change to bring in a lefty so Manuel used Tadahito Iguchi and removed Jenkins immediately).

Chad Durbin pitched a scoreless 6th and began the top of the 7th. After allowing a man on first with only one out, Durbin was removed. J.C. Romero was the option to pitch to a pinch-hitter for the pitcher (who obviously would be right-handed against Romero) and lead-off man Cameron Maybin, also righty. The correct move in this situation would be to allow Durbin to face a lefty pinch-hitter and then face Maybin. Yes, Durbin isn't great against lefties, but he's a hell of a lot better than Romero is against righties. Naturally, Romero walked the first righty he saw (almost 70% of his walks come against righties). However, Manuel got lucky as Romero struck out Maybin and then lefty John Baker. Durbin has a much better chance of retiring a pinch hitter and Maybin than Romero did, and Romero could have then came in to face the lefty Baker. Manuel rolls the dice but gets lucky.

Then, Manuel uses Ryan Madson in the 8th inning to pitch to the meat of the Marlins order (he faced 5 batters - 4 were right-handed). I like Madson, but here's how I look at this situation. You need 6 outs, and you presumably need 2 pitchers to get those 6. One is Madson, the other is Lidge. Madson (.331 OBP vs. LHB) has better numbers against lefties than Lidge does (.342). However, Lidge has better numbers against righties (.230 OBP vs. RHB) than Madson (.281). Since both are right-handed, and considering the lefty/righty splits, I would certainly want Lidge to face more righties than Madson and fewer lefties. Looking at the Marlins lineup, you could see before the bottom of the 8th inning that the Marlins had the heart of their order coming up, with 4 of 5 batters right-handed. Assuming that three, four, or possibly five batters come to the plate in the bottom of the 8th for Florida, the 8th inning would feature any of these: 2 of 3 batters are RHB, 3 of 4 are righty, or 4 of 5 are righty. Then, looking forward to the final inning, you would see that the 8-hole batter (Amezaga) would bat lefty, and the pinch hitter in the 9-hole would also bat lefty. This rough glance at the lineup would show that more righties are coming to the plate in the 8th than in the 9th (note: this is exactly what happened). Knowing this, and adding in the fact that the heart of the order was due up in the 8th, you should want your best pitcher (Lidge) on the mound to face primarily righties. Then, Madson could pitch to the lefties in the bottom of the 9th, per the above pitching splits.

Also, once Madson allowed the first two guys on base, I absolutely would have brought Brad Lidge into the game. The lefty had already batted, so 3 straight righties were due up. Lidge is the best option here to close down the threat because he has the higher strikeout-PA ratio than Madson. However, Madson worked his way out of it with a big assist from home plate umpire C.B. Bucknor. Lidge then pitched the ninth for his 39th save.

The bullpen bails out Manuel again.



*This prize pack does not exist.

1 comment:

Scott Graham said...

Thank god we don't have to give out a prize pack everytime Manuel uses Romero against multiple righties. We would be poor.