Wednesday, October 1, 2008

One Down

Great win.

I'm concerned about the lack of offense (particularly with Sabathia waiting on deck), but I'm hoping that the conditions had something to do with the lack of hitting.

As for the debate of the moment (should Charlie Manuel have taken out Cole Hamels to start the ninth inning), I say Charlie absolutely did the right thing.

1. Charlie doesn't like to bring in Brad Lidge in the middle of an inning (that's why he frequently has brought him in to games with a 4-run lead, which is not a "save" situation).

There's a good reason for Charlie's preference. Lidge tends to take a batter or two until he settles in. It's not unusual for Lidge to unload with a wild pitch to the first batter he faces. Lidge has openly discussed this and pointed out that he sometimes takes a batter to settle in. Given that fact, it's always a better idea to bring Lidge in at the beginning of an inning, rather than waiting until there's trouble, when problems to the first hitter such as a wild pitch could be disastrous.

2. This guarantees a no-lose situation for Hamels.

Hamels pitched eight shutout innings in his second season in the majors. That's fantastic, and it will be the headline. He also gets to talk about how much he would have liked to finish out the game, which gives him added incentive to do better next time. There's very little extra bump for Hamels in pitching a complete game shutout vs. an eight-inning shutout. And what little bump there is provides motivation for Cole to do better next time.

So, if Cole comes out in the ninth and doesn't finish it off, you've wasted all of the good created by Cole through the first eight innings, and you have to bring in Lidge in a less-than-ideal situation.

Whereas by taking out Cole, you're able to bring in Lidge (who, BTW, has been perfect in save situations for more than a season) in his ideal situation.

3. And if, by some chance, Lidge blows his first save, that's OK so long as Cole didn't start the inning because Cole gets to shoot off his mouth about how Charlie shouldn't have taken him out of the game, and everyone focuses their venom on Charlie instead of focusing it on Cole for not being able to finish off the game.

So, yes, Charlie Manuel made the right decision. Had Cole been truly dominant today (say he was working on a no-hitter), then it would have been different. But under these circumstances, Charlie did exactly the right thing.

Good decision, Charlie.

And great win, Phillies!

Let's get another one tomorrow.

No comments: