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.
Monday, May 21, 2012
With the score 5-4 Boston heading into the top of the 5th, Manuel sent Blanton out to the mound to face RHB Dustin Pedroia, LHB David Ortiz, and LHB Adrian Gonzalez. Before the inning started, he had already thrown 84 pitches and allowed three home runs. It is questionable to allow him to even go back out to face Pedroia; it is asinine to allow him to face LHBs Ortiz and Gonzalez (both of whom have significantly worse numbers against LHPs than righties). Moreoever, it is nothing short of criminal to allow Blanton to face those lefties when you have FOUR LEFT-HANDED RELIEVERS in your bullpen. Four! Joe Savery is back with the team, joining Raul Valdes, Jake Diekman, and Antonio Bastardo.
Blanton allowed a leadoff single to Pedroia. Was he removed for one of the thirty lefties with the 2 most dangerous hitters in Boston's lineup coming to the plate? Of course not, and Blanton allowed a monster home run to David Ortiz to get the lead to 7-4. Incredibly, Manuel still allowed Big Joe to face Gonzalez, who smoked a line drive directly at Shane Victorino for the first out. Blanton then faced RHB Scott Middlebrooks, who singled. Then Manuel decided it was enough for Blanton. Who did he bring into the game at this point, to face the BOTTOM of the order? Lefty Raul Valdes. If you know that you are going to remove Blanton if he struggles in the inning, and you know your answer is going to be a left-handed reliever, then why the hell aren't you bringing Valdes into the game to face Ortiz and Gonzalez? There is no logical answer other than "Valdes wasn't warming up in time," which isn't even a logical answer at all, unless you believe that the bullpen phone is a sentient being.
Now, let's go back one-half inning. The score was 5-1 in the bottom of the fourth, and the Phils mounted a rally that was capped by Freddy Galvis's home run to cut the lead to 5-4. Guess who the next batter was? Joe Blanton, with only one out. Manuel forfeited his chance to tie the game or take the lead against Jon Lester (who was clearly struggling as well) by sending Blanton up to the plate. Blanton did nothing, and, shockingly, the Phils weren't able to score with the bases loaded and 2 outs after that.
There's no reason for Blanton to bat there; there's no reason for Blanton to stay in the game after the Pedroia single, and there's no reason for Blanton to stay in the game after the Ortiz home run. The only possible explanation would be that Manuel wanted to stay away from his bullpen. However, the pen had only pitched 3 innings in the previous two days, so this is obviously not an answer.