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.
Wednesday, July 18, 2012
Charlie Manuel made one glaring mistake, and it was allowing Kyle Kendrick to face LHB James Loney to lead off the seventh inning. With Jake Diekman and Joe Savery still available, you must use one of these guys to face Loney (career .801 OPS vs. RHPs; 670 vs. LHPs). Using a lefty here not only minimizes Loney's potential, but, more importantly, it means Kendrick is not facing a left-handed batter. I would look up Kendrick's stats vs. LHBs, but he has damaged my retinas enough this season. Loney got a fly ball off Kendrick, but thankfully it stayed in the yard. Other than this one batter, Kendrick's usage was appropriate: he faced six batters after Loney, five of whom were right-handed. The only exception was light-hitting Tony Gwynn as a pinch-hitter.
Now, to Mattingly's hideous decision. In the first game of this series, Mattingly used LHP Scott Elbert to pitch to Chase Utley and Ryan Howard in a high-leverage situation. He retired both batters, earning a double play from Howard. Tonight, with the Phillies behind 2-1 with two outs in the 8th inninng, Chase Utley came to the plate with nobody on base. Perhaps Mattingly figured that RHP Ronald Belisario, who got the first two outs of the inning, was throwing well enough to face both Utley and Howard. Well, either Elbert is injured (which is highly improbable), or Mattingly's just an idiot (which is highly probable), because Utley and Howard are both worse against lefties.
Instead of stepping on the Phillies' throats when he should have, Mattingly allowed the Phils lefties to see RHP Belisario in their final plate appearances of the evening. Elbert, meanwhile, sat in the bullpen unused, even though he has only appeared in one game since July 5th! Belisario collapsed, walking Utley, hitting Howard with a pitch, and walking Ruiz on four pitches (actually, the fourth pitch, well off the plate, was called a strike, but he ended up hitting Ruiz with a pitch later anyway). This brought Hunter Pence to the plate with the bases loaded; he singled home two runs to give the Phillies the 3-2 lead.
Utley's career OBP vs. LHPs is .383 (!!!); Howard's is .310. Therefore, had Mattingly simply brought Elbert into the game, the odds of both of them reaching base is less than 12%. Instead, he kept the righty in the game, and it cost him a win in the standings. This is about as clear as it gets when a manager blows a game. Of course, this whole post is moot if Elbert was injured, but I'm thinking that Donnie Baseball should forfeit his nickname.
Tomorrow the Phils go for the sweep (which would be huge for their playoff chances, because LA is a team they will likely have to catch) when Cliff Lee faces LHP Clayton Kershaw at 3:10 pm.