The Roy Oswalt Decision

In a tight playoff game that could be the tipping point in Charlie Manuel‘s season, the veteran skipper decided to go to starter Roy Oswalt in the bottom of the ninth to face the heart of the Giants order. Oswalt, who was scheduled to pitch Game 6 (if there were to be one), was going on two days rest. Oswalt wound up only getting two outs, one of which came at the expense of the winning sacrifice fly. Playing Monday Morning Quarterback, we can now approach the question of whether the move to Oswalt was the “correct” decision.

I think the answer to this problem can be both misleading and tricky. This was undoubtedly the most important game of the series for the Phillies; if they were to win, they would tie the series at 2-2 rather than being down 3-1, and with Roy Halladay on the mound in the next game would have a fantastic chance at going up 3-2 and only having to win one of the final two games to advance to the World Series. What does this mean? That Charlie Manuel was probably justified in bringing in any non-Halladay pitcher if it were necessary. The game, and specifically the moment in the game, was just too important to leave up to a pitcher who was less than the best available.

However, that begs the question: Was Roy Oswalt the best option for Charlie Manuel in the ninth inning yesterday? The other options left were starter/long reliever Kyle Kendrick, closer Brad Lidge, and lefty J.C. Romero. Oswalt was without a doubt the most valuable pitcher left, but whether he was the best one at the moment is a different story. Oswalt had just thrown eight innings (111 pitches) two days before and has little-to-no experience on that short of rest. Besides being tired, a pitcher who has just thrown a ton a few days earlier may have a tougher time getting ready to come in as a reliever, especially when that pitcher is a starter completely alien to the situation.

Moreover, it’s questionable why Manuel went to Oswalt before he went to his closer and best left-handed reliever. Going to Oswalt is not something you want to do, and he was not the last option available. Manuel could have easily gone to his closer, the guy who is supposed to be made for these late, tight situations. If Lidge got into trouble, he had the option of going to Romero for a lefty or even bringing in Oswalt to bail him out. Still, the logic applies both ways. To go to Oswalt, Manuel really had to have a ton more faith in Oswalt in that situation over Lidge.

Finally, the question of Oswalt’s availability for Game 6 comes into play. Of course, if you lose that game there may be no Game 6, but with Roy Halladay on the hill for Game 5 you have a pretty good shot of seeing the series go at least six games. Oswalt only wound up throwing eighteen pitches, and Manuel said that he does not believe that is enough to hinder Oswalt’s next start, but Manuel didn’t know how much Roy would throw at the start of the inning. Also, regardless of exactly how many pitches Oswalt threw, his entrance may mess him up in some way for his Game 6 start.

Still, as said earlier, if Oswalt was the best pitcher available for the ninth inning yesterday, it was probably the right move by Manuel. But Oswalt’s long start two days prior, along with the other options left in the pen, makes it less likely that he was correctly pinned as Option A. However, I said earlier this problem is tricky, and there might not be a truly “correct” answer.




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Pat Andriola is an Analyst at Bloomberg Sports who formerly worked in Major League Baseball's Labor Relations Department. You can contact him at Patrick.Andriola@tufts.edu or follow him on Twitter @tuftspat


74 Responses to “The Roy Oswalt Decision”

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  1. Mark says:

    I don’t think I will ever understand how Oswalt was a better choice than Brad Lidge, “save situation” be damned.

    But as a Giants fan, I am happy with the decision.

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    • AB says:

      Maybe because he’s a far better pitcher than Brad Lidge?

      What should we compare here? HR rate, BAA, walk rate all favor Oswalt (even in over 4x more IP)

      Oswalt allowed 15 SB in 21 attempts in 211+IP
      Lidge allowed 7 SB in 7 attempts in 45+ IP (last 3 years total: 26/28 SBA)

      That side session didn’t seem to throw off Oswalt’s velocity. And if we really have to go to the experience angle, Oswalt really has plenty of experience is relief. More than most top veteran SPs

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      • Joe says:

        So if the Phillies were up 1 going into the bottom of the 9th, Charlie would have turned to his best pitcher option, Roy Oswalt for the save?

        Just because it’s his throw day doesn’t mean he’s throwing at 100% effectiveness (especially if reports are true that he even threw his side session earlier). Those HR rate, BB and BAA comparisons you throw out have many other variables baked into them (one being amount of rest). Also given the guys batting is SB success really a key consideration (Huff, Posey, Uribe).

        Charlie was saving his closer for a save and judged Oswalt to be a better option than Kendrick and Romero. This was not about getting his best pitcher in as early as possible, it was just him being a slave to convention (save the closer on the road). If this were a home game, Lidge is pitching the 9th and Oswalt is pitching in extras.

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    • nofaithinpen says:

      Because Manuel didn’t trust Lidge and with good reason. If he passed on using Contreras for one out earlier (or left him in for another inning) then he probably has Madson available or Contreras and goes that way instead of Oswalt. As it was his overall lack of faith in entire pen cost Phils dearly.

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  2. Matt K says:

    There’s the whole “save your closer only for a save situation” that visiting managers have been using FAR too often. I assumed, last night, that Manuel had succumbed to that falacy much like I’ve gotten used to seeing Jerry Manuel doing over the past few seasons.

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  3. Jimmy the Greek says:

    Using your closer in a non-save situation rests on the premise that your closer is your best relief pitcher.

    But a) Ryan Madson is the Phillies best reliever and was appropriately used for two innings, and b) Roy Oswalt is better than Brad Lidge

    If it was Mo Rivera (or even Brian Wilson) back there, yeah, of course you put the closer in in a non-save situation. But the logic there is to put your best pitcher available in. And, in this case, Charlie did that with Oswalt.

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    • Joe says:

      Simple question for those arguing Manuel was smart about this.

      If the Phillies have say a 1 run lead in the 9th, who does he bring in? If Oswalt is indeed the best arm at that point he should take Oswalt over Lidge, correct?

      Is there any question who Cholly would have brought in if he had a 1 run lead?

      Manuel was doing the old….. “I’m on the road, I’m saving my closer routine” and decided Oswalt was bettter than Romero or Kendrick. If this were in Philly he’d have Lidge work the 9th and then used Oswalt after that (unless there was a situation for the lefty Romero)

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      • WY says:

        “If this were in Philly he’d have Lidge work the 9th and then used Oswalt after that (unless there was a situation for the lefty Romero)”

        Of course he would have. The reason is that if Lidge pitched a scoreless 9th at home and the Phillies scored in the bottom of the inning, he wouldn’t NEED another pitcher. If Lidge pitched a scoreless 9th last night, the Phillies would have needed another pitcher regardless of whether they scored or not.

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  4. ian says:

    Isn’t it conventional wisdom to use your closer to keep the tie at home, but on the road to only use your closer when you’re ahead? (I don’t subscribe to this doctrine; I’m just attempting to understanding Manuel’s move.)

    Also, what about the fact that Oswalt had already thrown his bullpen session and iced down his arm? I imagine that had to have been a factor.

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    • Wally says:

      What? Did he actually do that? I think this move becomes absolute lunacy, if this is true.

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      • ian says:

        That’s what I have been led to believe. Initially people were saying Oswalt hadn’t thrown on the side, but later the SFG broadcast folks were saying Oswalt had thrown his bullpen session earlier in the day and had iced down his arm.

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  5. BS says:

    I’m pretty sure Charlie went with Oswalt because Lidge can only go 1 inning. His 1+ inning stints this year have been disastrous, and because of his recent elbow troubles they don’t want to put him out for more than 1.

    Meanwhile, Romero has a huge platoon split and is basically useless against righties.

    Charlie could’ve put out Kendrick, but Kendrick was literally the last option to keep you from putting a position player on the mound if the game went 10+ innings. If the game went 18 innings, it would’ve been with Kendrick pitching the last 7 or 8 innings.

    So ideal situation:
    9th inning – Oswalt
    10th inning – Lidge for the save

    Extended situation:
    9th inning – Oswalt
    10th inning – Lidge
    11th inning and on – Kendrick

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    • Bigmouth says:

      Then why not bring in Oswalt for the 9th? The point, I think, is that the heart of the Giants order was up, so this was the decisive moment in the game. So that was the time to use your best pitcher.

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      • WY says:

        That’s exactly what they did. They brought Oswalt in for the 9th.

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      • Graham says:

        Actually, this logic doesn’t make any sense to me. If Lidge can only go one inning, does it matter when that inning is? If Lidge was the best option available, then Lidge should’ve been there in the 9th, save or no save. The heart of the order was up in a sudden-death situation.

        Of course, this does lead us back to the inescapable conclusion that Charlie Manuel thought more of Oswalt on two days’ rest and post-bullpen than his closer. I don’t dispute this logic, and actually I would say it was a perfectly logical decision but for the fact about Oswalt already throwing and allegedly icing his arm prior to the game. Even considering that, I don’t think it was a horrible move.

        The fact that Madson is the only reliever who has Manuel’s trust at the moment is a bit of an issue.

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      • Bigmouth says:

        WY, I meant the 10th. The point being, if Lidge is your best pitcher, you use him when you need him most even if it’s only for one inning.

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      • BS says:

        If Lidge comes in the 9th, who pitches the 10th? Oswalt?

        Oswalt/Lidge is probably preferable to the vice versa if only slightly.

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    • Bigmouth says:

      BS, that may be, but if so, I don’t think it has to do with Lidge’s ability to go more than one inning.

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  6. GTown_Dave says:

    Also keep in mind that Oswalt had already thrown his full, regularly scheduled bullpen session earlier yesterday afternoon. This further calls into question what Charlie’s plan was should the game have stretched into extra innings, how ready & able Oswalt will be to pitch a potential game 6 on Saturday &, in my view, tips the decision to use Roy Oswalt in Game 4 irrevocably into the “Bad Move” column.

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    • Wally says:

      Yeah, like I posted above I hadn’t read that yet. But given that Oswalt already threw, he probably should have been completely off the table. And I think the results of that inning pretty much confirm that.

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  7. Souldrummer says:

    What about only getting one out from Contreras earlier in the game? Seemed to me that was one of the reasons that he ran out of players. Double switch to save Contreras so that you’ve got one more inning out of your relievers? Be interested to see what people think of that.

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    • AB says:

      The problem with double switch is that the only real double-switchable player (Francisco) was due up too the next inning. They are not going to switch out Werth, Utley, Howard or Vic. Polanco in theory maybe for Valdez, but that leaves them screwed with a Rollins re-injury. And Polanco ended up having a gigantic hit

      It’s really too bad that Blanton couldn’t get through that 5th on his own. Polanco and Victorino both could have made (difficult) defensive plays to help him out too….Polanco on the potential DP chance and Vic on the play at the plate

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      • Wally says:

        I’m not sure he couldn’t have. While Blanton isn’t great, or even good, the option of bring in one of your best relievers in the 5th inning for only one out probably isn’t worth it here. Blanton had only thrown 63 pitches, and with a guy on first and two outs, it wasn’t huge leverage (~1.2). Plus, you already have the favorable platoon match up with Blanton against Posey, even though Posey was having a great game, there is no reason to read that much into a sample size of 2.

        Had Manuel wanted to make a move, he should have at least gone with a lesser pitcher.

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      • Souldrummer says:

        My bad. I’m used to rooting for the Nats where Riggleman is addicted to the double switch and Rizzo has yet to supply him with enough irreplaceable players to cure him.

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    • nofaithinpen says:

      Showed first that Manuel had no confidence in another RP to get that out (Posey; not an easy task). But, that’s his call. Giving him that, he should have let Contreras hit in the next inning where he gained almost nothing in win probability by pinch hitting…especially since he already at that point knew he didn’t trust rest of his pen.

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      • sean says:

        though I rather have contreras in the 6th for a full inning, i can see why he was used for only one batter if you use the reasoning that he pitched two innings the day before

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  8. Evan says:

    Charlie’s decision to skip Lidge was a mistake. At least he didn’t go with Romero or Kendrick.

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  9. Bigmouth says:

    Sorry, minor pet peeve here, but that’s not an example of begging the question. You mean “raises the question.” Question begging is a form of logical fallacy where an argument assumes the truth of the premise you’re trying to prove.

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    • Pat Andriola says:

      Wrote this article while in philosophy class. Freudian slip. Thanks for the catch.

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    • Bigmouth says:

      PS: I agree it was nuts not to go to Lidge.

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    • dutchbrowncoat says:

      and my pet peeve is pretentious commenters who have to point out each tiny grammatical or usage error in every fangraphs post.

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      • Brian Tallet's Moustache says:

        And my pet peeve is calling people who do that “pretentious”. Heaven forbid someone be concerned with the proper use of the English language in the same way that folks are concerned with the proper use of, say, a starter on short rest in the ninth inning of a playoff game. Baseball may be more exciting, but language is more important.

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      • dutchbrowncoat says:

        if his intent and meaning are not changed by the alleged ‘misuse’ and the vast majority don’t notice or care than is it really a misuse? no need to stick 100% to the rules and conventions set up hundreds of years ago if it doesn’t hurt the meaning. language evolves and changes over time.

        but hey, if you are into that sort of thing then you might as well (am i using that phrase properly?) stop reading fangraphs and just stick with all the old school thoughts on baseball as well.

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      • Bigmouth says:

        dutch, I think the difference is that I said I was “sorry” for being a douche.

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      • Brian Tallet's Moustache says:

        I’m pretty sure Fangraphs suggests avoiding conventional thinking about baseball because often such conventional thinking in based on a faulty premise. What you’re suggesting is that because a bunch of people are wrong in the way they talk, we should all just go ahead and keep being wrong.

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      • dutchbrowncoat says:

        @btm (and avoiding all snark this time)

        sort of, but i am of the opinion that the usage isn’t actually wrong if does not lead to a misunderstanding. the language has been changing for hundreds of years now, and i personally don’t see the need to stick to rules just because they are rules if there is no need for them.

        really though, my larger concern is that the writers here get targeted so often for these types of mistakes. it just doesn’t seem necessary, as i would be more concerned with a data/logic error in the article than a grammar error. for me, it would be like going to a writing website and critiquing a slight misuse of baseball terminology in a short story.

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      • Brian Tallet's Moustache says:

        That’s totally fair. I don’t exactly love all the shit the writers here get and don’t really understand where all the hate for their work comes from.

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      • Bigmouth says:

        Dutch, this isn’t some arbitrary rule about grammar. “Begging the question” has a definition: it’s a type of basic logical fallacy. It absolutely does confuse things the way people use that term to mean “raise” the question. If you really care about using arguments rooted in logic, as you claim to do, this distinction matters.

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      • dutchbrowncoat says:

        @bigmouth

        in my previous comment, i specified that my larger concern was actually the regularity with which the readers will pick apart the fangraphs writers for each little spelling or grammar mistake. i do not think it is necessary at all, especially for a site which provides free (quality) content. yes, they presumably want to put out the best product they can, but it has to be frustrating for them to have each and every mistake pointed out.

        i am familiar with the logical fallacy, but i think it was pretty clear from the context that he was using it in the ‘raises the question’ sense and not in the sense of the logical argument. thus, the alleged misuse led to no confusion on my part or presumably the other 99% of fangraphs readers who saw it and didn’t comment. and fwiw, there are standards out there (namely the oxford english dictionary) which readily accept the phrasing ‘begs the question’ in this form due to the heavy usage.

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      • WY says:

        “and my pet peeve is pretentious commenters who have to point out each tiny grammatical or usage error in every fangraphs post.”

        I think that some of the writers could do a better job of proof-reading their work before publishing it. I don’t think it’s necessarily pretentious to point something out if it’s done constructively. If anything, it is pretentious for someone to use a term (e.g., “begs the question”) without actually knowing what it means. With THIS post, that’s not what happened — it was just a slip, as the writer pointed out.

        In any case, sloppy writing (above and beyond the occasional typo or slip-up) can undercut the impact of an otherwise thoughtful post or article. So when writers come on an make emphatic, contentious arguments about some baseball-related issue, yet do it in a sloppily written way, I don’t think it’s surprising that people would point out some of these mistakes. This is why newspapers and magazines have copy editors!

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    • TX Bobby says:

      you’re a tool

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    • Bigmouth says:

      Dutch, I appreciate your larger concern, but believe you chose the wrong whipping boy. Save your spite for someone who self-righteously rips them on a technicality.

      I see your point about confusion, and I completely agree that most Fangraphs readers weren’t confused. But I suspect that’s because many are completely unaware of the other meaning. That’s a problem, too, even if no ambiguity results in this case.

      Explaining to folks what it means to “beg the question” can be tricky enough without the added complication of their thinking you mean “raise the question.” The concepts are similar but distinct, so confusion often results.

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      • WY says:

        “Dutch, this isn’t some arbitrary rule about grammar. “Begging the question” has a definition: it’s a type of basic logical fallacy. It absolutely does confuse things the way people use that term to mean “raise” the question. If you really care about using arguments rooted in logic, as you claim to do, this distinction matters.”

        I know this isn’t about baseball, but I agree with Bigmouth. This term (“begging the question”) IS misused very often. I think the mistake was pointed out tactfully, and the writer actually acknowledged the slip-up and went back and changed it.

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  10. AB says:

    I think BS is right. The key issue is that Lidge can’t really go multiple innings. His elbow is not healthy. And Charlie is essentially committing to him for 2 innings if using him in the 9th (ie, if Phils score in tenth, no way they take him out)

    He has been very effective on the strength of his slider and decent control down the stretch, but he has never pitched 2 full innings as a Philly. He’s have several cortisone shots in his elbow this year, his velocity is down to 90 and he’s had elbow soreness as recently as mid-Sept

    As a Philly fan I was in complete support of the move in terms of optimizing chances for the win that inning. Oswalt is just a better pitcher. Lidge walk 2x as many players, and is dreadful at holding on even decent baserunners. He’s also more homer-prone

    Oswalt does have short rest relief experience (6 reg season relief outings not counting his rookie year, 2004 NLCS). And Oswalt’s stuff looked fine, he was 94-95. Posey and Uribe both hit good pitches on the edge of the zone

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    • Bigmouth says:

      Then bring in Oswalt after Lidge. There’s no law that says you have to use the latter for two innings. The point is that, because this was the decisive moment, their best pitcher should have been on the mound, even if only for one inning.

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      • WY says:

        What if you take a one-run lead? You bring in Oswalt to try to close it out?

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      • AB says:

        Why would I want him to go with a lesser pitcher in the 9th vs the heart of the SF lineup?

        Oswalt >>> Lidge. FIP, xFIP, K:BB, BAA, HR rate, control, command all better. Lidge only wins on K ability due to his slider. Lidge is also terrible at holding down any sort of running game

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    • Bigmouth says:

      AB, that’s a separate argument. I’m just saying that, if Lidge is their best pitcher, the fact that he can’t go two innings is not a compelling reason to go to a lesser pitcher in that situation.

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  11. Ken says:

    The biggest issue I had with Manuel letting Oswalt come in was that Oswalt is a starter. He may be able to understand that allowing even one run results in a loss, but the ingrained starter mentality is “minimize the damage.” In the 3rd, 5th, or even 8th inning giving up a run for an out is usually the better choice. In the bottom of the ninth? Not so much. Lidge probably would have been the better option, but if it were me, I’d have gone with Romero. If you get the Giants out, who knows how long the game will last.

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    • ian says:

      Disagree. You use your best pitcher. The whole starter/reliever makeup thing is overblown at best, and nonexistent at worst.

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      • Jason B says:

        Totally agree with Ian. RoyO knows full well that he can’t give up a few runs willy-nilly and get his stuff together 2 or 3 innings down the road there. He knows the impact and the immediacy of the situation.

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    • WY says:

      “He may be able to understand that allowing even one run results in a loss, but the ingrained starter mentality is “minimize the damage.” ”

      I’m pretty sure he would have been able to override that part of his mentality. He just happened to give up a couple of hits, and Uribe hit a sac fly. I am sure that Oswalt was aware of the situation and was doing everything he could to put up a zero. It just didn’t happen.

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  12. WY says:

    You can’t bring the closer in in a tie game, especially a one-inning type of closer like Lidge. He’d have to hold them scoreless, then they’d have to score in the top of the 10th (against Wilson) and hope that he could make it back out and pitch a scoreless 10th. If not, you’re stuck with the same options: Oswalt, Romero, Kendrick.

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    • Bigmouth says:

      WY, I just don’t follow this reasoning. If Lidge is your best pitcher — and I understand there’s some dispute about this, but assuming it’s true — you use him against the heart of the Giants order with the game on the line even if it’s for one inning. Then you replace him with your next best pitcher, etc.

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      • WY says:

        It’s because even if Lidge puts up a zero, the Phillies still have to find someone to pitch the 10th. Say Lidge keeps the game tied at 5-5, then the Phillies score one run in the 10th. Who comes in to pitch the bottom of the 10th? Oswalt?

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    • Bigmouth says:

      Yes, Oswalt in the 10th. The logic being that you use the better pitcher — whoever that may be, and however long he can go — in the situation where you have the greatest chance of losing. In this case, that’s against the heart of the order in the bottom of the 9th. Then you bring the next best pitcher in the 10th to face the bottom of the order, when the risk of losing is slightly less.

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  13. AB says:

    To me the most rip-pable decisions for Manuel are

    1) Roy vs Blanton in Gm 4 – I think there are plausible args either way, especially with Hamels saying he’d be willing, but I can live with what Charlie did

    2) Allowing Durbin to pitch to Sandoval. Ugh. And then also Ishikawa and Torres. Those last two didn’t hurt but c’mon Charlie. Take a cursory look at some splits

    Oswalt I am on board with. Francisco vs Romo I am fine with (I’ve heard some pretty weak args for Ibanez there….”he’s had 23 postseason ABs (OF SUCK).” Rollins non-bunt I am fine with (just gotta pull the ball Jimmy)

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    • WY says:

      “1) Roy vs Blanton in Gm 4 – I think there are plausible args either way, especially with Hamels saying he’d be willing, but I can live with what Charlie did”

      Starting Halladay would have been iffy, since it would have forced every remaining starter to go on short rest (unless you want to use Blanton in Gae 5). And if you manage to get through this series, you have to turn around and do the same thing in the World Series — unless you want to use Blanton in THAT series, at which point he would have gone about a month between starts.

      Anyway, the Phillies can still win this series, and they have their top three starters going, all on full rest.

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      • AB says:

        I don’t disagree, but for the Phillies, the biggest stumbling block to pitching guys on short rest in the playoffs has always been that Hamels hasn’t/doesn’t feel comfortable/doesn’t want to do it. That was the big cited factor (along with Lee also saying he’d be uncomfortable) in the decision to pitch Blanton in Game 4 in the 09 WS

        This year he came out and said publicly that he would want to do it. And the Roys each have ample experience with it

        Anyway, I don’t think it was some huge mistake, I would have been fine with either decision

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      • Jason B says:

        “Anyway, the Phillies can still win this series, and they have their top three starters going, all on full rest.”

        Or almost full rest, if Roy threw a side session and an 18-pitch 2/3 of an inning yesterday. I guess we’ll see how sharp he looks in game six if we get there.

        But I totally agree with your premise, I’d rather have the big three all rested than all going on short rest, and take my chances with Blanton in game four.

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    • BS says:

      Not bringing in Bastardo to face Sandoval was the real mistake in the game. Everyone could see Durbin didn’t have his best stuff. It wasn’t as if the first two Giants hitters blooped hits, they were pretty good rips. Honestly, I’m surprised Durbin actually finished the inning. I was sure he was going to get blasted for like 4 or 5.

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  14. out of gas says:

    The real fail was bringing in Durbin with a 4-3 lead. Durbin had pitched one third of an inning since October 3rd !

    Then I say you have to go with Lidge in the 9th to get through the heart of the the order.. I mean he has been unhittable vs right handed hitters, and it’s foreign territory for Oswalt. If they get through the 9th they were in good shape, as they more than likely would have pummeled Ramirez or Mota. If needed, OZ could have been brought in to face a weak bottom of the order in the tenth.

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  15. Joe says:

    Yes obviously Durbin was the biggest mistake. The same mistake that cost them last year in an elimination game.

    But as far as Oswalt, Wilson. I’m not going to analyze the move, just the motivation. I think Manuel was sticking to conventional wisdom that the closer has to get the save. Since that is a load of crap reasoning, it was the wrong move.

    If it was the right move, it was for the wrong reasons, and ridicule is still deserved by Manuel.

    I hate it when managers go to a guy like Durbin in the post season that he wouldn’t even use in the regular season.

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  16. Train says:

    First off, I think it’s questionable to call this a must win type game for the Phils. It’s only a must win if you face elimination and so while you thought it was the most important game of the series it turns out not to be, today’s game is. So I think it was way to early to be throwing in the kitchen sink to win that game. Essentially the action cost a big leg up on game 6 for nothing and if they had won, maybe a wash.
    Putting that aside, however, I think the even bigger mistake than putting Oswalt in was not putting Contreras back after his one third inning. If he had stayed in then Madson’s two would have put them thru to the last inning. I even think plulling Blanton when they did was a terrible mistake. Managers are just getting to fine in their postseason pitching strategies. The illusion of precision. Even the Giants were guilty in this one pulling Bum way too early. This was a game I thought was just riddled with bad pitching staff management.

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  17. JRoth says:

    Setting aside the alleged sidework/icedown thing (which suggests it’s crazy to use Oswalt even over Kendrick):

    I don’t see any reason to claim that Lidge is “better” than Oswalt to pitch that inning, for all the reasons given by AB and others above. But, given short rest and lack of any history as a reliever, I don’t see giving a decisive edge to Oswalt either. So let’s assume that they’re roughly equally likely to get outs against any given group of batters last night. Then what do you do?

    I say that you use Oswalt to pitch the tied inning and hope that you get to use Lidge with a lead in the 10th. That puts at least one of your pitchers in his greatest comfort zone. It also allows for the possibility that, if Oswalt is efficient enough (~10 pitches), he comes back in for a second tied inning, which I gather isn’t an option for Lidge unless he throws about 5 pitches.

    Incidentally, I agree that the misuse of Contreras was the real mistake in the game. Let Blanton pitch to one more batter or let Contreras hit, but don’t squander one of your best bullpen guys on a single, low leverage AB.

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  18. CJ says:

    As an Astros’ fan, I have watched Oswalt pitch for many years. And I immediately had a bad feeling about putting Oswalt into the 9th inning as a reliever. Oswalt has very little experience as a reliever, other than his rookie year. All were 1 inning outings or less, and there were some bad outcomes. Before the All Star break in 2006, after Lidge had blown a save in the 9th, Oswalt came into the 10th inning of an important series with the Cards and gave up a game winning HR to Pujols. The Phillies used Oswalt in 1 inning of relief against the Braves on Oct. 3, and that was not altogether successful, giving up a run on a triple and single. That’s pretty much the extent of Oswalt’s relief work since 2002 (other than a 1 batter appearance in 2007). No that’s not much of a sample, but it’s not good.

    Oswalt is one of those pitchers who frequently takes a couple of innings to settle into a shut down pattern. He often doesn’t have good command of his curveball in the early innings. That’s one reason he wouldn’t be my favorite pick for a critical relief assignment.

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  19. Jimmy the Greek says:

    Charlie did exactly what statheads have been arguing managers should do for years–he used his best pitchers in big situations. Madson and Oswalt are better than Lidge. Those two pitched the 7th, 8th and 9th.

    What’s the problem here?

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    • CC Sabathia says:

      I think the luck of the draw has worked out a bunch of times this year when Madson actually faced the better parts of opponent lineups in the 8th. Not Charlie genius, just luck.

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    • Locke says:

      The problem is you’ve got a guy who just threw 100+ pitches two days ago, and who you hope will go 7+ innings for you in another two days, who has never come out of the pen in his life, while you’ve got comparable options in the pen, and nothing FORCING you to cash in a starter at that moment. The right move had to be Lidge for the 9th then Oswalt later if you absolutely have to.

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