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.
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
Niese struggled mightily through the first 5 innings, walking 4 batters against the team with the lowest walk-rate in the National League. Entering the 6th inning, he had thrown 105 pitches, and RHBs Ty Wigginton and John Mayberry were due up for the Phils. Niese is a lefty, and Wigginton (.815 OPS vs. LHPs) and Mayberry (.903 vs. LHPs) are significantly better against lefties than RHPs (.748 and .693, respectively).
When you have a pitcher who struggled badly through his first 105 pitches, the only possible reason to send him back out to the mound is to exploit lefty/righty splits. Expecting Niese to be effective against two RHBs who feast on left-handed pitching is completely irresponsible, and it backfired on Collins. Niese walked Wigginton to lead off the inning -- this brought his pitch count to 110. Now, this was Collins's second opportunity to remove Niese before it was too late (RHP Ramon Ramirez was warming in the bullpen). With 110 pitches and a righty ready in the bullpen and an absolute LHP-killer at the plate, it's embarrassing to force Niese to pitch to Mayberry.
To Mayberry's credit, he took full advantage, blasting a two-run homer to left field. THEN Collins took Niese out (comically, switch-hitting Freddy Galvis and LHBs Brian Schneider and Cole Hamels were the next 3 batters -- if you're going to force Niese to pitch to the right-handed power bats, you'd might as well just leave him in for the lefties). Had Niese simply been removed one batter earlier, it's not at all a stretch to imagine a 4-3 Mets' victory.
Thankfully for us, Cole Hamels is not Jonathon Niese, and Manuel remained errorless on the day (except for the asinine hit-and-run he called in the seventh inning, forcing Polanco to swing at a 2-1 pitch in the dirt after Parnell was struggling with his control).
Jonathan Papelbon appeared in the 9th inning to preserve a four-run lead; normally, this would be a cause for complaint. However, there is an off-day Thursday, and Papelbon hadn't pitched since Friday, so there's no issue.
Tonight the Phils look to win their second consecutive series when Big Joe Blanton faces RHP Jeremy Hefner at 7:10 pm.