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, September 5, 2012

Game 134: Bullpen, without Bastardo, blows huge lead (64-70)

With the Phillies leading 7-3 heading into the bottom of the 9th inning on Sunday night, they were 3 outs away from pulling within seven games of the wild card lead, which is almost incomprehensible. Manuel did not use Jonathan Papelbon to start the inning, which is a curious move given that he almost always uses closers with 4-run leads. However, Papelbon had appeared in two of the previous three games, and with no off-day after this game, it is a good sign that Manuel appeared to be saving his closer. Papelbon ended up blowing the lead when he came into the game with a 4-run lead and two baserunners, but that is exactly the situation where Papelbon must excel. Kevin Frandsen made a huge error with two outs (not as big as the error made by the scorekeeper, who ruled it a double), so Papelbon wasn't really at fault either. This collapse was almost entirely blameless from the manager's perspective, except when you realize that Antonio Bastardo (a lefty reliever who is better than Jeremy Horst, who allowed those 2 runners to reach base ahead of Papelbon) was unavailable for this game because of unnecessary usage the day before (see below).

This isn't a huge mistake by Manuel, but when you have a history of bullpen abuse and a season where you have cost your team at least five games with asinine pitching strategy (both games in Pittsburgh in April, the 9-5 Mets game last week, the Braves game on May 2, and the 1-0 game in San Francisco [and those were just off the top of my head]), you're not going to get the benefit of the doubt anymore.

The Phils dropped 8 games behind St. Louis, and their season died for the 55th time.

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