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, June 7, 2012
The Phillies lost another one-run game tonight, despite carrying a 4-2 lead into the top of the 6th inning. This is the only inning I'm going to analyze, because it's really the only inning worth discussing.
Kyle Kendrick provided a typical KK start, finding his way into the 6th inning while only allowing 2 runs. However, he allowed 2 of the first 4 batters to reach base in the inning. With runners on 2nd and 3rd and two outs and the Phillies still ahead 4-2, left-handed batter Tony Gwynn Jr. came to the plate.
Kyle Kendrick is notoriously bad against lefties, but Gwynn is not a strong offensive player (career 78 OPS+ in 1500 PAs). He is not typically strong against RHPs either, owning just a .654 OPS against them for his career. However, Kendrick pitched to Gwynn as if he were pitching to Barry Bonds, which resulted in a 3-1 count to Gwynn. Part of the reason behind Kendrick's carefulness was certainly the fact that Gwynn was the 8-hole hitter. Even if Gwynn walks, either the Dodgers' pitcher has to hit, or the Dodgers will be forced to pinch-hit for him. Charlie Manuel obviously bought into this nonsense, calling for Kendrick to throw the 3-1 pitch intentionally out of the strike zone. This is outrageous for a number of reasons.
Primarily, it has already been proven that intentional walks are a bad strategy for the defense. The perceived benefit of pitching to a different batter is almost always outweighed by the increased run expectancy of adding the baserunner. Furthermore, when you consider that the Dodgers are guaranteed to pinch-hit for the pitchers' spot, it is obvious that you don't want to put the go-ahead run on base.
Manuel decided to walk Gwynn despite the mountain of evidence against that strategy, and Kendrick ended up walking PH Jerry Hairston to make the score 4-3. It was at this point that Manuel removed Kendrick from the game, which is just infuriating.
If Kendrick is only going to pitch to one more batter (the pinch hitter), then why leave him in for Tony Gwynn, when you know Kendrick struggles against lefties? The leadoff hitter for LA is Dee Gordon, meaning that between Gwynn, the pitcher's spot, and Gordon, 2 of the 3 next hitters are lefties. Even though it is the 6th inning, you must treat this situation as extremely high leverage.
Manuel should have went to Antonio Bastardo to face Tony Gwynn, rather than leaving Kendrick in the game for that AB. It is obvious that Manuel had reservations about the Gwynn-KK matchup, evidenced by the fact that Manuel intentionally allowed the Dodgers to put the go-ahead run on base. Bastardo is the perfect choice for three reasons: he exploits the left-handedness of this part of the lineup; he is almost as effective against RHBs as he is lefties, so the pinch-hitter is not a threat; and he is by far the Phillies second-best reliever for high-leverage situations.
Instead, Manuel chose Kyle Kendrick and Raul Valdes to pitch the most important inning of the game. Kendrick left after the Hairston walk, and Valdes only finished the inning after allowing a 2-run single to Gordon. This gave the Dodgers the lead 5-4, and the Phillies never tied it up afterwards. Another fantastic outing from Mr. Manuel.
Tomorrow the Phils try to avoid a sweep when Cole Hamels faces RHP Aaron Harang at 1:05 pm.