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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Monday, October 4, 2010

Game 162: Manuel essentially hands Braves playoff spot (97-65)

The Book contains a section in the chapter about maximizing the batting order that discusses never letting a pitcher bat (i.e. always pinch hitting for the pitcher). On average, a team would gain 68(!) runs a year doing this. However in most cases it's not practical, and the book only suggests doing it with a team's fourth and fifth starters, so for the Phillies the rotation would look like this: 1st starter; 2nd starter; 4th starter until his spot comes up, 5th starter until his spot comes up, then third best reliever; 3rd starter; 5th starter, 4th starter, third reliever.

Going into yesterday's game, we knew that Cole Hamels wouldn't be in the game for too long as the starter. Manuel wanted to have him throw, but didn't want to overextend Hamels. He went two innings, and when his spot in the order came up in the top of the 3rd, Manuel pinch hit for him. Mayberry followed with a 2-run homer. Not bad, Mr. Manuel. Roy Oswalt was then brought into the game. Manuel only let him go one inning. He threw 17 pitches and gave up one run on two hits. His spot in the lineup did not come up in the top of the 4th, but Charlie Manuel pulled him anyway for Danys Baez. Baez did what he does best, and gave up 4 ER on 5 hits in 0.2 IP.

I understand that Manuel is trying to give his pitchers a little extra rest before the postseason. However, Cole Hamels does not pitch until next Sunday, and he only threw 30 pitches. I'm not too upset that he didn't go more than 2 innings, but he certainly could have. Roy Oswalt, who does not pitch until Friday, only went one inning throwing 17 pitches. He definitely could have gone one more inning. I don't like that Manuel pulled him, but that isn't what has me so bothered. If you're set on yanking Oswalt, why not let the real pitchers pitch the earlier innings, and then maybe the game will already be decided before you use Baez. The score was 2-1 when Baez came in. The Braves are not that good a team, and were probably feeling tremendous pressure after they lost the first two games of the series to below average pitchers. If they keep getting shut down, they would probably begin to press more. Why not throw Blanton after Oswalt? Why not throw Durbin after Oswalt or Blanton?

I'm not exactly sure how I would have handled the pitching staff yesterday, but I most certainly would not have trotted Baez or Romero out there early in a close game on the last day of the season when my opponent really wanted/needed a win.

I hope Bobby Cox thanked Charlie after the game for helping them not have to play tiebreaker games this week.

Nevertheless, the Phillies finished the season with the best record in the majors. The Phillies will play the Reds in the NLDS starting in Philadelphia on Wednesday at 5:07. Look forward to a series preview by either Mr. Musser and/or me in the upcoming days.

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