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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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Game 10: Let's overwork our best starter and reliever in the same game (5-5)

Roy Halladay and Jonathan Papelbon each pitched one too many innings last night in the Phils' 5-2 victory over San Francisco.

Halladay struggled early, throwing 24 pitches in the first inning. However, he kept his composure and managed to get through the 7th inning with a 5-2 lead and a pitch count of exactly 100. In the top of the 8th inning, the Phils had two men on base with 2 outs when Halladay's spot was due up; the Giants had a RHP on the mound, and Jim Thome was available to pinch-hit for Halladay. Instead of optimizing your run expectancy for the inning while simultaneously removing your best pitcher from a game with a win expectancy of 93%, Manuel decided that Halladay needed to throw another inning against the trash that San Francisco calls a lineup. Thankfully, Halladay got through the 8th inning with only nine pitches, but it's not as if Manuel would have removed Halladay mid-inning had he approached the 125-pitch count.

The Phils did not score in the top of the 9th, and Manuel realized that 109 pitches was too much for Halladay to return to the mound. Instead, in classic managerial fashion, Manuel sent his best reliever into the game with a 3-run lead in the 9th inning.

Jonathan Papelbon threw 14 pitches in the 9th inning with a 3-run lead. He allowed 1 baserunner and zero runs. This is the same guy who wasn't allowed to pitch in the two Pittsburgh losses specifically because they weren't save situations. Instead, we had David Herndon and Joe Blanton pitching in the highest-leverage innings of the season. This is the equivalent of Mike Kafka attempting a field goal in overtime, yet Andy Reid will receive more criticism in this city for a 3rd-down play-call than Manuel will receive for his repeated, inevitable pillaging of his own bullpen.

Papelbon has now thrown 40 pitches in the last two games. Fourteen of those pitches occurred with a 3-run lead, and twenty-six of those pitches occurred with a 6-run lead! Remember, this is the same guy who wasn't allowed to pitch in two different tied/1-run games in Pittsburgh specifically because they don't want to overwork him.

THIS is why you can't sign Papelbon to a huge contract: not necessarily because it's a terrible allocation of assets (which it is -- I mean, the Phillies haven't upgraded their scoreboard in over 14 months), but because you have a manager who has a better chance at predicting the 2012 Stanley Cup winner than actually optimizing his own bullpen.

When Papelbon is unavailable tomorrow night or Thursday -- or when he is forced into an actual high-leverage spot tonight yet is ineffective -- you'll know who to thank. However, the beat writers in this city are so concerned about their job security that they would never DREAM of interrogating the manager on this subject. Instead, we'll settle for media members who berate Andy Reid for his understanding of the value of going for it on 4th and 1 inside the opposition's territory (re: Giants-Eagles week 3 when the score was 16-14).

Go Flyers.

The Phils attempt to win the series tonight despite their manager's best efforts when Big Joe Blanton faces LHP Madison Bumgarner at 10:15 pm.

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