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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

NLDS Game 3: This is why you don't use Madson in Game 1 (2-1)

Both managers screwed up today. Only one manager, however, has Ben Francisco on his team.

Here are the two main mistakes:

1) La Russa intentionally walked Carlos Ruiz with a man on second and two outs in the 7th inning. Why? He has to know Ben Francisco will be the next batter, and Francisco owns a .343/.425 OBP/SLG off lefties in his career. Carlos Ruiz is negligibly better against lefties, with a .363/.413 line. Why are you adding a baserunner in a tie game to pitch to a similar hitter? Completely illogical, unless you believe that La Russa was making this move in order to force Cole Hamels out of the game. However, Hamels had 117 pitches after 6 innings, so it's very likely he was coming out of the game anyway. Bad move from La Russa, and it cost him the game.

2) Manuel allowed Brad Lidge to pitch to one-too-many batters. Antonio Bastardo came into the game with a runner on first base and nobody out in the 8th inning, and he retired the only batter he faced. The next spot up was the 9-slot, so La Russa used Matt Holliday as a pinch-hitter to represent the tying run. Manuel went with Brad Lidge to face Holliday, not a bad move considering Lidge's slider is effective against RHBs. Holliday singled off Lidge, which then brought Rafael Furcal to the plate with two men on base. Furcal is a switch hitter, Lidge has always been worse against lefties than RHBs, and Lidge's fastball is not nearly as reliable in 2011 than in the past. This was a no-brainer situation: just bring in Madson now.

Unfortunately, Manuel showed his irrationl aversion to Madson's pitching more than 1 inning. He left Lidge in the game to face Rafael Furcal, batting lefthanded. The only reason to leave Lidge in the game than use Madson is that Manuel is afraid of using Madson for more than one inning. However, once Furcal got a cheap single to load the bases, thenManuel brought in Madson. It's outrageous that Manuel is willing to use Madson for 5 outs, but also unwilling to allow him, rather than Lidge, to face Furcal. It's inherently contradictory, and both Madson and Manuel got extremely lucky on the hard-hit double play that followed.

If that line drive is 5 feet to the right or left of Chase Utley, this section would read more like an obituary than a footnote. Manuel plays with fire and wins again.

Although Manuel made only this one mistake today, the fact that he used Ryan Madson in a 7-run game on Saturday has caused an entirely avoidable situation: Madson has now thrown in 3 of the past 4 days (the only day he hasn't thrown was the day without a game), and it is possible he will be unavailable to pitch in Game 4. Even if he is available to pitch, it's very possible that he will be less-than-100-percent if he does appear in game four.

Certainly, Manuel made no mistake with his usage of Madson tonight. If Manuel were as aggressive with Madson in the regular season as he was tonight, perhaps the Phillies would have won 110 games. Let's revisit the original mistake from Saturday's game in regards to Madson. This is what I wrote after game one:

"I probably would have left Stutes in the game for one or two more batters. It's possible that Ryan Madson will need to pitch in all four playoff games (that would be four games in five days, something he was unable to do earlier in the year in Washington). Madson should be treated as gold in this bullpen given the relative unreliability around him, so bringing him into the game with an 11-4 lead was pretty ridiculous"

I stated that "it's possible that Ryan Madson will need to pitch in [the first] four playoff games," but now, it's very likely that Madson will be needed in all four. Manuel was reckless in using Madson in game one in a situation where the win-expectancy was over 99%, and now it may be time to pay the Piper. If Madson is unavailable/less-than-100-percent in an appearance in game four, the blame from the media will fall on Madson; however, the reality is that Manuel has created his own mess. Hopefully Oswalt can bail him out in the same fashion as Madson today.

Manuel got lucky this afternoon, and La Russa did not. The Phillies look to expire the Cardinals tomorrow night at 6:07 pm when Roy Oswalt faces RHP Edwin Jackson.


Scott Graham said...

I think we might just get lucky since Madson didn't throw that many pitches in game 1 or 2. He has thrown 43 pitches in 4 days. Clearly not ideal, and I agree with his usage Saturday being completely unnecessary, but he didn't run up his pitch count until yesterday.

hk said...


I have a few questions for you as a follow-up to your NLDS Game 2 blog. Why do you want Victorino #3and Pence #5? Do you want this for all games or just vs. LHP's?

Scott Graham said...

My main logic is that I want the best option up for when the opposing managers brings in lefties to face Utley and Howard. My thought process is also that they might sooner allow Victorino to face the same lefty as a righty with the idea that he could just as easily bat lefty should they bring in a RHP. Managers would be more likely to make the switch knowing they'd have the R-R matchup with Pence.

I also like the idea of Victorino over Pence for the LH starter.

2011 wOBA vs. LHP:
Victorino: .441
Pence: .421

Career wOBA vs. LHP:
Victorino: .378
Pence: .376

This isn't a huge deal. I have a negative bias toward Pence because I feel like he's over-appreciated by Phillies fan essentially because he runs like a wounded animal, and experiences the human drive of hunger. It's along the same lines as Phillies fans ranting and raving for Cliff Lee more than Halladay and Hamels. I honestly didn't realize how well Pence has done since he's been here, but I can't help but feel like he's playing over his head.

hk said...

I find Pence and Victorino to be basically interchangeable offensively. While it does seem that Pence may be playing over his head, it is also possible that his improvement is due to things that we cannot quantify (i.e. maybe he began concentrating more since the games mean more). Regardless, it is encouraging that his K% and BB% have both improved significantly since he joined the Phillies, albeit in a relatively small sample size of 236 plate appearances.

I am totally with you on the absurd amount of Pence love, especially when you consider how bad of a fielder he is. People were ready to cut (or demote, trade or lynch) Dom Brown for a few blunders in RF, yet I have not heard one word about Pence's follies out there.

Andy Musser said...

An advantage to having Victorino 5 and Pence 3 is that Victorino will be more likely to run with the bottom half of the order rather than when was batting in front of Utley, Howard, etc.