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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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Who leads off the 6th?

Grant Balfour is the current pitcher for Tampa Bay in Game 5. He will face a pinch-hitter for Cole Hamels to lead off the bottom of the 6th. Charlie Manuel faces a tough decision. He knows that if he inserts a lefty pinch-hitter, Joe Maddon will likely counter with one of his three lefties, perhaps David Price.

There are several options for Charlie here. However, I think he must force Maddon's hand. This is a tie game in the 6th inning. There is a chance this game goes extras, so the deeper the Rays go into their bullpen in only the 6th inning, the better off the Phillies will be. Balfour is a fantastic pitcher - he shut down lefties this year to the tune of a sub-.200 OBP, even though he is right-handed. If I were Maddon, I would leave Balfour in this game to pitch to whatever lefty Manuel inserts, because if Maddon goes to Price right away, he will have to pitch to righty Jayson Werth, who is in the 2-hole and owns a better OBP and much better power numbers against lefties.

Is Maddon looking this deep into it? Or will he just go right to Price or another lefty and see how long he can last? Impossible to tell. Thus, if I were Manuel, I would put Geoff Jenkins up to the plate to invite the removal of Balfour. If Maddon goes to a lefty, Manuel should burn Jenkins and go right to Eric Bruntlett, who has a .361 OBP vs. lefties and is more than capable of providing an early spark. This way, Price (or another lefty) will face three consecutive righties to start the 6th inning. Or, if Maddon does not remove Balfour, Jenkins will get an at-bat against a fastball pitcher. He will certainly attempt his best Matt Stairs imitation. Win-win for Charlie, and he would still have Taguchi on the bench for defense later in the game.

Many people are calling for Dobbs to start the 6th inning as a PH. This is a bad idea for two reasons. 1) It is only the 6th inning, and there will certainly be a better spot in this game to insert Dobbs into the lineup. 2) Price (or another lefty) will come in to face Dobbs, who has amassed a grand total of 9 ABs vs. lefties this year. Using Dobbs right away, knowing a lefty is waiting, is way too high of a risk. You don't want to waste your best bench player in such an unfavorable matchup so early in the game. Jenkins, however, is expendable.

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