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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Game 92: Wow, Don Mattingly is terrible: Phils handed a W (41-51)

The Phils are now only ten games under .500 thanks to their second consecutive 3-2 victory over the LA Dodgers. They should have lost this game by a score of 2-1, but thanks to Don Mattingly's complete ignorance of Chase Utley and Ryan Howard's splits against LHPs, the Phils scratched out two runs in the top of the 8th inning.

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.


hk said...

I'm not ready to pull the plug on this season yet. If they go 8-2 or better in the next 10, many of which will be against teams ahead of them in the Wild Card race, I would not mind seeing them keep their key pieces* as I don't have a lot of confidence in Ruben's ability to get good prospects in return for the key players. If they win 7 or less, selling will probably be the best bet and we can all pray that Ruben gets more than he got for one year of $9M Cliff Lee.

* Dom Brown is back and playing well in the minors and it's time to trade Juan Pierre (preferably for a cost controlled reliever) and promote Dom regardless of where the team is in the standings.

Robby Bonfire said...

This is exactly what is wrong with the MLB "Championship" structure, these days. Absolutely crap teams, heading into August, playing it like they are in "world championship" contention. Of course, once in a blue moon, a ~really crappy~ team, like the (82-79) 1973 Mets, will go all the way to the seventh game of the World Series, thereby giving hope to every other crappy "contender" for the rest of time.

This made for TV endless playoff system absolutely stinks. In the old days, organizations strived to build an upper 90's or low 100's win team, not a pathetic sub-.500 team going into August while clinging to the pipedream/fantasy notion of winning it all.

People who think this aged, decrepit Phillies team replete with deadbeats all over the starting lineup and filling out the roster -and with this stumble-bum manager who can't even handle a franchise closer properly - has a chance to become "world champions" this season, have a better chance of seeing the next President of the United States by looking in the mirror.

Why is reality so hard to accept, for so many people? Damned if I can tell.