Examining Manuel: 4/6/2011

Posted by Mike Frohwirth

Another wild game on Tuesday night. It’s not too often that a team takes a seven-run lead in the bottom of the 3rd inning, and goes on to blow that lead by the top of the fifth. The Phillies’ Win Expectancy was 97.4% after three innings, and 56.5% after four and one-half innings. Crazy. Take a look at the Game Graph, courtesy of Fangraphs

Check out that chasm in the 5th inning. The Phillies WE even dipped under 50%, when Daniel Murphy hit his game-tying single. Charlie Manuel would have had a lot of explaining to do, if the Phillies hadn’t been able to win this one. Let’s look at some of Manuel’s moves.

Manuel gave Carlos Ruiz the day off. Brian Schneider got the start, batting eighth. Wilson Valdez also got the day off, and was replaced by Pete Orr, batting seventh. The rest of the typical lineup was unchanged.

Schneider’s substitution was likely because the Phillies play a day game tomorrow. Ruiz wasn’t likely to play both games, and Manuel chose to have Ruiz catch Halladay’s start on Thursday. The left-handed hitting Schneider was used against Mets right-hander Mike Pelfrey, and the right-handed hitting Ruiz should play against the left-handed starter for Thursday, Jonathan Niese. Similarly, the left-handed hitting Orr faced Pelfrey, and the right-handed hitting Valdez should face Niese tomorrow. Pelfrey is particularly vulnerable to lefties, in control (1.15 K/BB v. LHB, 2.16 K/BB v. RHB) and batting average against (.285 v. LHB, .266 v. RHB, with identical .307 BABIPs against each handed-ness.) Excellent job here by Manuel.

Joe Blanton entered the top of the fifth, protecting a 7-2 lead. Eight batters (and one out) later, Blanton was removed. Blanton left with the bases loaded, and the Phils’ lead down to a run.

Tough situation for Manuel. He manipulated his bullpen options well on Tuesday night, but he didn’t want to have to go to the bullpen early again on Wednesday. Blanton seemed poised to escape the inning, but he just couldn’t get the double play (or big strikeout) he needed. Manuel might have pulled Blanton earlier in the inning, if the Phils hadn’t been leading at the time. The best move would have been to bring in a lefty to face Ike Davis, with the bases loaded, and the Phils still up, 7-4. But Manuel didn’t have a lefty ready, and Blanton was unsuccessful.

Manuel finally replaced Blanton, with the bases loaded in the fifth, and only one out. Antonio Bastardo was called upon to protect a 7-6 lead.

Ryan Madson would have been the best choice here, but it was somewhat early in the game for Manuel to use his best reliever. Manuel didn’t really have a good choice here, which is likely why he stayed with Blanton as long as he did.

With left-handed hitting Josh Thole due to bat, followed by fellow lefty Daniel Murphy, Manuel summoned inexperienced lefty Antonio Bastardo. Manuel double-switched, placing Bastardo in the #7 spot in the batting order, and new 2B Wilson Valdez in the #9 spot. Manuel hoped that Bastardo would get 5 outs, before being replaced by a pinch-hitter. Manuel’s other lefty option, J.C. Romero, was not a good choice here, due to the existence of right-handed batters in the Mets’ lineup. Bastardo struck out Thole, surrendered a game-tying single to Murphy, and then retired the next four batters in order. Manuel did about as well as he could here, and still had Romero in reserve for a LOOGY opportunity.

In the sixth inning, and the Phillies leading 10-7, Manuel chose right-handed hitting John Mayberry, Jr., to face Mets right-hander Blaine Boyer.

Not really sure why Manuel chose to use Mayberry, Jr., who struggles against right-handed pitchers, when left-handed Ross Gload was available. Perhaps Manuel figured the Mets would counter Gload, with lefty Tim Byrdak, but Gload is satisfactory against pitchers of both-handedness. Perhaps Gload was being saved for later in the game? Hard to say. Mayberry, batting .172 lifetime against RHP… singled to left field. Not sure about the process here, but the results were good.

J.C. Romero was brought in for the seventh, with the Phillies leading, 10-7. The scheduled batters were switch-hitter Angel Pagan, left-handed hitting Ike Davis, and right-handed hitting Brad Emaus.

Romero struggles mightily against right-handed batters, and is best utilized as a LOOGY. Right-handed pitchers David Herndon and Danys Baez were both available to Manuel. If Manuel didn’t want to burn through multiple relievers here, Herndon and Baez were both better choices to try to get through the inning. Manuel went with Romero, who retired both right-handed batters, and allowed a single to the left-handed batter. Terrible process here, but the results were fine.

With a 10-7 lead in the eighth inning, Manuel had both Ryan Madson and Jose Contreras available to close out the game. Manuel had Madson face the 8-9-1 hitters in the eighth, while Contreras faced the 2-3-4-5 hitters in the ninth.


Madson is Manuel’s best reliever, and should be used against the opponent’s best hitters. However, Manuel has announced that Contreras is his “closer”, and will pitch the ninth inning. The Phillies would have been better off with Contreras preceding Madson, but both relievers were successful. Questionable process again, but Manuel got the desired result.


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