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.
Thursday, May 17, 2012
No real complaints for Manuel today.
Manuel went to Jose Contreras in the 7th inning with the score at 2-2, and he pitched a 1-2-3 inning while facing only one LHB. After Carlos Ruiz (batting 5th) hit a home run in the 8th inning to give the Phillies a lead (we've been saying for years now that Ruiz's production will increase when he gets out of the 8-slot), Manuel went to Antonio Bastardo in the 8th, who also pitched a perfect frame.
After appearing in 3 of the previous 4 games, it was somewhat troubling to see Papelbon warming up in the bullpen even after the Phillies extended the lead to 5-2 in the top of the 9th. With a 3-run lead on the road in the 9th inning, you have a 97 percent chance of winning the game. Had Papelbon not pitched recently, an appearance up by 3 runs would not be noteworthy; but since Tuesday's afternoon game proved how fickle he is in terms of availability, it would be nice to trust someone else with a 97% win expectancy so that Papelbon will not be unavailable for the following game (had Papelbon pitched last night, it would have been 4 appearances out of 5 days, and that is usually enough to be rendered "unavailable" by Manuel/Dubee).
Papelbon should certainly be used in save situations with 1-2 run leads, never with 4-run leads, and only in certain situations with 3-run leads (dependent on batters due up, recent usage, future schedule, and importance of opponent). Last night was not one of them. If you use Raul Valdes to start the 9th inning with a 3-run lead and he allows the first batter to reach base (win expectancy drops to 92% now, the same as a 2-run lead to start the inning), then you go to Papelbon. If Valdes retires the first batter but allows the next two guys to reach base (win expectancy now at 90%), then you go to Papelbon. If Valdes retires two of the first three batters, then you can stick with Valdes (98%). If Valdes retires two of the first four batters (win expectancy 96%), I think you should still stick with Valdes (or anyone not named Papelbon) to try to get the final out, unless the batter is a legitimite home run threat. Of course, once three runners reach, it's time to go to the closer.
Hector Luna hit a grand slam to extend the lead to 9-2, so the above paragraph is moot. Valdes pitched the entire ninth inning. Nice job Charlie!
Tonight the Phils look for their second consecutive sweep when Roy Halladay faces RHP Chris Volstad at 8:05 pm.