Numbers Prove Manuel Right About Closers In Tie Road Games [AUDIO]
Charlie Manuel stuck to his guns when he came under fire Sunday -- a 5-4, 10th inning loss to the Orioles to make it 10-of-14 and three straight series sweeps for the Phils, now eight games back of first in the NL East -- for not setting up Jonathan Papelbon for a potential six-plus-out situation. The prevailing logic being that, without the home team edge of last ups, doing so (and regularly) just isn't much of a longview for the health of the guy and the hopes of the team.
Said Manuel: "I remember when I first came to manage here, you used to second-guess the hell out of me when I had (Billy) Wagner. Still, you don't play that way. If you're gonna to keep your closer, and you're gonna to keep him healthy, and you're gonna to use him in winning situations in a game, you do not do that."
Even when asked a rhetorical question about how hard it is to watch the Phillies go 2-6 in extra-inning situations. (The Phils went 11-8 in 2008.) Some of which, at least per the Phillies scriptuals, could've been prevented by virtue of Jonathan Papelbon.
Said Manuel: "Yeah, it's kinda hard for me to watch. He's not gonna go two innings on the road in a tie game."
And there you have it, Manuel's hard line. That, matter of fact, has been the one he's toed throughout his career here. Not to say it hasn't happened, and hasn't happened to ends you can totally live with. (Maybe party over.) Just that the odds are less like Black Jack for Ben in "21," more like Keno (house odds are 21 percent) for a bath salts addict.
Take a peep at the list Phillies save situations on the road over the last 10 years in which the guy on the hill lasted at least two frames.
|Michael Schwimer||8/21/2011||PHI||WSN||L 4-5||6-8 BS||3||2||1||1||3|
|Clay Condrey||5/21/2008||PHI||WSN||W 12-2||7-9f S||3||5||2||2||6|
|Ryan Madson||7/8/2007||PHI||COL||W 8-4||7-9f S||3||2||0||0||0|
|Ryan Madson||8/26/2009||PHI||PIT||W 4-1||9-10fBW||2||2||1||1||4.5|
|Brett Myers||9/18/2007||PHI||STL||W 7-4||10-11 BS||2||2||1||1||4.5|
|Brett Myers||5/9/2007||PHI||ARI||W 9-3||8-9f S||2||1||0||0||0|
|Turk Wendell||7/12/2003||PHI||NYM||W 4-2||8-9 BS||2||2||1||1||4.5|
Plus, none of those players -- an armful of scrubs and hacks and a less 2011 Ryan Madson than an "Every Other Year In His Up And Down And Unreliable Eight Years" Ryan Madson -- were Papelbon. Who, for record, rakes $12.5 million per. (And has the silliest Rotoworld player page pic ever.)Yeah. "Shaky" -- a quick tally tells you that, at 3-for-6 Philies have fared at about .500 for completed/blown saves when they've thrown two or more innings on the road -- is right. Still, that makes nothing of the specifics of the one in question: Whether to bring in a closer during a tie game.
Still, the data doesn't script a different story for Papelbon. About the same, actually.
A list of Papelbon's career road wins between 2005 and 2011 (in Boston), all of which being games in which he was tapped during a tie game. (Per the numbers, only once in the eighth inning.)
|8/24/2008||BOS||TOR||W 6-5||9-10 W||2||0||0||0||0|
|7/23/2008||BOS||SEA||W 6-3||11-11 W||1||2||0||0||0|
|6/14/2008||BOS||CIN||W 6-4||9-9 BW||1||1||1||1||9|
|9/24/2005||BOS||BAL||W 4-3||8-8 W||1||1||0||0||0|
Now for his career road losses. (Again, those in which he got the call during a tie.)
|9/28/2011||BOS||BAL||L 3-4||9-9f BL||0.2||3||2||2||27|
|5/17/2010||BOS||NYY||L 9-11||9-9f BL||0.2||3||4||4||54|
|5/9/2008||BOS||MIN||L 6-7||9-9f BL||0.2||2||2||2||27|
|5/7/2008||BOS||DET||L 9-10||9-9f BL||0.2||2||2||0||0|
|8/9/2006||BOS||KCR||L 4-5||9-9f BL||0.2||3||2||2||27|
|8/12/2010||BOS||TOR||L 5-6||9-9 BL||0.1||4||3||3||81|
|6/23/2010||BOS||COL||L 6-8||9-9f BL||0.1||3||3||3||81|
That’s right — just a 6-10 record. Eesh.
And the juxtaposition there -- half of these Papelbon wins lasted two or more innings, none of his losses went longer than one -- shows you the cost (wear and tear) of milking a win out of your closer when you slide him into a knotted-up game on the road. To Manuel's point. (Which didn't immediately include what's already happened to Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay this year, but does in spirit.)
It's not to say it's not frustrating, if not excruciating, to watch the
David Michael Schwimer's of the world suffer through situations they seem totally overwhelmed by. But for a game with gameplay as fragmented as baseball's -- pitch-by-pitch, the tiniest increments of action, which allow us to isolate for the slightest details and make for a total, top-to-bottom, historical analyses on a super micro level -- the numbers just don't prove the guy wrong. Maybe -- just maybe -- Manuel's getting it right.