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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Friday, August 12, 2011

Game 117: Phils complete historic road-trip with huge comeback (77-40)

Charlie Manuel had a pretty good game Wednesday afternoon, making only one mistake. Other than Vance Worley's first inning, the pitching staff was good for the remainder of the game.

Manuel's bullpen management was fine: he removed Worley after 4 innings, using Kendrick, Herndon, Lidge, Bastardo (for 1 2/3 innings, which was a great decision), and Madson. Removing Lidge from the game after he allowed two of the first three batters in the 7th inning to reach base was a very good decision from Manuel. He often gives his relievers too much room for error, only removing them when it's too late. Also, he brought in Bastardo for a lefty-lefty matchup. It's a good sign that Manuel seems to recognize Lidge's limitations against LHBs.

Manuel's only mistake came in the top of the 5th inning, when the Phillies had runners on second and third with only one out. The score was 6-4, and the Dodgers had just brought lefty Hong-Chih Kuo into the game to face LHBs Raul Ibanez and Brian Schneider, who are both very bad against left-handed pitching.

It was only the 5th inning, but this is a huge situation. The tying run is on second base with only one out, but even if the Phillies only score one of the runners, they're only losing by one run heading into the bottom of the 5th. This is a situation that's made for John Mayberry Jr.

Kuo was brought into the game specifically to face Ibanez, who has a .239 OBP (!!!) against LHP this year. Kuo's K-rate against lefties is about double his K-rate against righties.

Mayberry is less likely than Ibanez to strike out, more likely to get on base, and more likely to hit a home run. He's also a much better defender. And if you bring in Mayberry, the Dodgers can't remove Kuo for a RHP -- since Kuo just entered, he must pitch to at least one batter.

Luckily, Ibanez managed to hit a ground-ball against Kuo, which scored a run. Schneider then struck out. I'm sure most Phillies fans wanted the score to be 6-6 at the end of that inning, but I was just relieved that Ibanez put the ball in play. If Kuo managed to reverse his results by K-ing Ibanez and getting a ground ball from Schneider, the game's outcome may have been different.

There's no benefit to saving Mayberry for another situation: it's unlikely he'll get to bat with two RISPs, and its even more unlikely that he'd be guaranteed to face a lefty.

Manuel missed this opportunity, but Utley and Howard bailed him out.

Tomorrow the Phils look to go 15-1 in their last 16 games against non-orange-colored teams when Cole Hamels takes on RHP Livan Hernandez at 7:35 pm. Late start tomorrow due to a pre-game ceremony.


Robby Bonfire said...

To Scott and Andy: I just "discovered" your fine web site a couple days ago. So impressed with the depth and scope of your ananlysis of the subject matter, I am printing and collecting all installments from this 2011 season, and reading your observations with a reference I haven't had since reading The Baseball Abstracts when they were hot off the presses. Thanks so much, school is in for Phillies fans, even if it never will be for the imposter running the dugout.

And I am sure it took some GUTS to visualize and proceed with this critical concept. More power to you both for disdaining "popularity" with so many stuck-in-the-mud, knee-jerk "fans."

Scott Graham said...


hk said...

It is amazing how many fans are either backing Charlie or unable to grasp (or both) the concept of splitting Utley and Howard with Victorino. As I just posted in a comment on Crashburn, Javier Lopez pitched in 5 of the 6 games in the NLCS last year, faced 14 hitters (Utley 5x, Howard 5x, Polanco 3x and Victorino once). Victorino walked and the others were 1-13. I can't believe that, as simple as Charlie seems to be some times, that he (like many of his blind backers) doesn't get this concept.

Scott Graham said...

Couldn't agree more. It's scarily simple logic, really.