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.

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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Game 76: Manuel gets away with using Schwimer in highest-leverage spot (36-40)

The Phils edged the Pirates last night by a score of 5-4, thanks to a huge night from Carlos Ruiz and a fine job by Michael Schwimer in the bottom of the 7th inning. The 7th inning is when the game was decided; Pittsburgh had men on second and third base with nobody out and the Phillies ahead 4-3.

With only a one-run advantage and the lead run in scoring position with zero outs, the Pirates had the heart of their order up in Jose Tabata, Neil Walker, and Andrew McCutchen. This is obviously the most important spot of the game: you already know that the 8th and 9th innings are going to begin with nobody on base and nobody out, where the run expectancy is around 0.55 runs. When Manuel removed Worley for Schwimer with the lead run on second base, the run expectancy was 2.05 runs. That number is an average; Schwimer is certainly a below-average pitcher. Jonathan Papelbon and Antonio Bastardo are both enough above-average that they would likely decrease that expectancy to under two runs. Therefore, when Manuel brought Schwimer into this situation, he effectively handed the lead to the Pirates. Nice job, Charlie.

Schwimer pitched into some luck, retiring Jose Tabata on a groundball to the pitcher (which did not advance either runner) before getting a flyout-double play thanks to a great throw by John Mayberry. I assume Manuel used Schwimer in this situation because he is good at inducing flyball double plays.

In recent years, Manuel had managed the same exact way. However, Scott Eyre, Chad Durbin, and     JC Romero were all more effective, and unquestionably luckier, than this bullpen (Romero's luck ran out when Manuel kept forcing him into the game against RHBs. Naturally, this terrible management resulted in the loss of Romero's job, not Manuel's). However, last night is one of the few examples in 2012 where Manuel lucks into success by using the incorrect pitcher. If the Phillies plan on making the playoffs, keeping the manager, and refusing a brain transplant for Manuel, they will need more lucky innings like last night's seventh.

Tonight the Phils try to win the series when Raul Valdes and his 60-pitch maximum face RHP James McDonald at 7:05 pm.

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