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 25, 2012
With the score 5-3 in the top of the 8th with 2 outs and a man on second, Ryan Braun came to the plate. Antonio Bastardo had started the inning, and since he is THE 8TH INNING GUY, Manuel did not remove him from the game for a RHP. You must bring in a righty here, of course, because Ryan Braun is one of the best hitters in the world against left-handed pitching. He has a career OPS against lefties 1.050; he is still good against righties, though, with a .906 number.
There was a base open here, but Aramis Ramirez was on deck (.830 vs. RHPs, .880 vs. LHP). The options for Manuel are: a) walk Braun and pitch to Ramirez with Bastardo; b) walk Braun and pitch to Ramirez with Schwimer or Papelbon; c) pitch to Braun with Bastardo; d) pitch to Braun with Schwimer or Papelbon.
The best choice, of course, is (d). Ideally, you could bring Papelbon into the game to pitch to Braun and remain in the game to get the save in the 9th inning. However, he has been used a lot lately, so a move to Schwimer in this spot is fine, too. Walking Braun is also an option, but you cannot allow a LHP to face Aramis Ramirez, either. Since the difference between Braun and Ramirez is not as significant against RHPs as lefties, the ideal choice is to pitch to Braun with a righty.
Charlie Manuel just explained in his press conference that he left Bastardo in the game because "if you look at Brauns numbers against righties and lefties, they're pretty close." Manuel was referring to Braun's season splits, and he actually mentioned the number of home runs that Braun has hit against lefties and righties this season. No one in the press conference, of course, pointed out to Manuel that Braun has a .440 career wOBA against LHPs, and only a .388 number against RHPs. That's not close; and if it is, it's not close enough to warrant leaving Bastardo in the game.
Braun demolished a home run off Bastardo and the game was tied. The 4 batters behind Braun were all right-handed; there's absolutely zero reason to allow Bastardo to pitch to Braun.
Then, Jonathan Papelbon came into the game in the 9th inning with the score tied. What does this mean? No doubles defense! Corey Hart led off the inning with a ground ball directly at the third baseman's position, but because of Charlie Manuel, the third baseman wasn't there. He was standing on the line, with half his range in foul territory, It is an incredibly idiotic strategy that backfires way more often than it prevents a double.
Now, because Papelbon cannot hold runners on base, Hart stole second. Hart had 2 stolen bases on the whole year before today, and he was bringing in a terrible 66.6% success rate on SBs. It cannot be any more obvious that the no-doubles defense should not be used with Papelbon on the mound (or anyone, really), but Manuel continues to kill his closer. The Brewers ended up botching a squeeze play, so this mistake was not fatal.
The Phillies scored 2 runs in the bottom of the tenth to win. They start a must-win series against Atlanta on Friday night.