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 31, 2012
Charlie Manuel made it through the night without making any mistakes (that is, if you don't count arguing with umpires after they make correct calls -- which he did twice tonight, after ignoring the blown call at the plate on Sunday that cost the Phillies a run) until the bottom of the 8th inning.
The Phils were leading 4-3 heading into the bottom of the 8th, with the 3-4-5 batters due up for the Mets. Power threats David Wright, Scott Hairston, and Vinny Rottino were coming to the plate. With only 6 outs to go and just a 1-run lead, Manuel should have gone to Papelbon for the start of the inning. Instead, Manuel chose Jose Contreras, a significantly inferior pitcher. With only a 1-run lead, the manager is assuming he needs to close out both innings without allowing any runs. Using your inferior pitcher against the other team's best hitters, while saving your best relief pitcher for a theoretical inning with the bottom of the lineup, is just inefficient managing. Thankfully, David Wright swung at Jose Contreras's 3-1 pitch out of the strike zone, so Manuel's team did not blow the lead before the 9th inning.
The Phils scored 6 runs in the top of the 9th inning; however, Papelbon was still warming in the bullpen when the score was 7-3. Once the score got to 8-3, then Papelbon was ordered to sit down. Apparently, the Phillies management values a 5-run lead significantly enough more than a 4-run lead to alter their bullpen strategy. If this seems absurd to you, you're right. The win expectancy of a 4-run lead in the 9th inning on the road is 99%. The win expectancy of a 5-run lead on the road in the 9th inning is 99%. Charlie Manuel must really put a lot of weight into the difference between 98.8% and 99.2%.
Now, this is only the beginning. The Phils ended up extending the lead to 10-3, after which Raul Valdes was called into the game. He allowed two baserunners out of the first 4 batters, which is not good, but when you have a seven-run lead, it is more than acceptable. With the score 10-4, two outs, and one runner on base, Valdes allowed an RBI-double to cut the lead to 10-5. At this point in the game, the Phillies have a 99.9% chance of winning according to the win expectancy finder, and I think that's a low estimate. However, Manuel was so INCENSED that Valdes had the nerve to allow the Mets to cut the lead to five runs with two outs in the 9th, so he forced his 50-million dollar asset into the game.
Papelbon ended up throwing 8 pitches in the game. If you add the standard 8 warmup pitches after leaving the bullpen, in addition to whatever he threw in the bullpen during the 9th inning, that's at least 20 pitches that weren't warranted. All of this occurred because Manuel didn't trust Valdes with a 99.9% chance of winning.
Now, this will likely have no impact on the Phillies, because they have an off day tomorrow. But, if he pitches on Friday and Saturday, it will be 4 appearances out of 6 days, which would be a possible cause of unavailability for Sunday's game.
Even if he doesn't end up as unavailable this weekend, however, it still must be noted that Manuel has no grasp of win expectancy in the 9th inning. Remember, Manuel sat down Papelbon after the lead was extended from 7-3 to 8-3 in the top of the 9th. Yet, he panicked when the Mets cut the lead to 10-5 with only one baserunner and TWO OUTS in the bottom of the 9th inning. In other words, he trusts Valdes with a 5-run lead and 3 outs to go, but he doesn't trust Valdes with a 5-run lead with one baserunner and only 1 out to go.
Charlie Manuel: inventing new definitions of insanity with each day of his lifespan.
Tomorrow the Phillies are off, thankfully. They start a 3-game home-set against Fort Lauderdale on Friday when Kyle Kendrick faces LHP Mark Buehrle at 7:05 pm.