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It Should Have Been Adams

Posted by Eric Seidman, Tue, April 16, 2013 12:40 PM | Comments: 19
Analysis, Commentary

The Phillies lost a pitchers’ duel on Monday in a very entertaining game that saw Cliff Lee and Bronson Arroyo throw very well and Ben Revere make one of the best catches in team history. Things fell off the rails for the Phillies in the eighth inning, however, when small ball and a defensive miscue broke the 2-2 tie and put the Reds ahead.

The Reds’ two runs in the eighth were credited to Jeremy Horst, who loaded the bases before exiting with one out. His performance drew the ire of many Phillies fans, as this isn’t the first time Horst has been plagued by poor results in a crucial moment this season. However, most of what happened was out of Horst’s control that inning and he shouldn’t even have been pitching in the first place.

In the eighth inning of an important game, with a fully rested bullpen and the starting pitcher removed, Mike Adams should be on the mound. In fact, one could argue that Adams should have been on the mound even if the Reds had a bunch of lefties due up. Adams has faced exactly 745 righties and lefties in his career and has no platoon split whatsoever. His career wOBA allowed to lefties is .260 and it’s .254 against righties. Both are exceptional numbers and, for reference, Antonio Bastardo‘s wOBA allowed to lefties was .254 in 2011-12.

Charlie Manuel said after the game that Horst was the only pitcher warming up because the Phillies trailed 2-0 heading into the eighth. That’s perfectly justifiable, but after Domonic Brown singled and the decision was made to pinch-hit with Chase Utley, Adams or Bastardo should have started warming up as at least a precautionary measure in case the Phillies tied the game or took the lead. Worst case scenario is they sit back down.

Manuel also mentioned that he was hesitant to use Adams because he had thrown in four of the last five games. Another valid point, however, it wasn’t as if Adams really overexerted himself. He threw three pitches to finish off Cliff Lee’s outing against the Mets on April 9. He threw 19 pitches on April 10 against the Mets. He threw 16 pitches against the Marlins on April 12, and another 11 pitches against the Marlins on April 13. Yes, technically, that’s four outings in five days, but we’re talking about an average of 12 pitches per game spread out over that span. These weren’t all consecutive games, and it’s highly unlikely that his arm needed more than a day to recover after throwing 11 easy pitches against Miami.

Mike Adams was signed for that type of situation, just like Jonathan Papelbon was signed for crucial late-inning situations, regardless of any other ancillary factors. The Phillies have not handled Papelbon optimally since acquiring him, and if Monday night’s game against the Reds was any indication, the team might not handle its setup man correctly either.

Horst may have given up the runs and taken the loss on Monday but he wasn’t to blame. To blame was the decision to bring him in over Adams regardless of the results. Even if Horst had thrown a 1-2-3 inning with three strikeouts on nine pitches, the right call in that situation is to use a rested and healthy Adams, as he presented the Phils with the best opportunity to keep the game tied.

For those who want to relive the very strange inning, here is the play-by-play, accompanied by my commentary.

Horst relieved Lee in the eighth and opened the frame by allowing a swinging bunt single to Derrick Robinson. Howard couldn’t hold onto Horst’s low throw and Robinson was safe. Robinson was going to be safe anyway and Horst did everything correctly on this play. Robinson is fast and just happened to hit it in a spot on the field that was tough for anyone to make a play. Shin-Soo Choo then sacrificed Robinson to second.

Zack Cozart lofted a flyball to shallow right-center that fell past a diving Laynce Nix for a double. In watching replays, I’m convinced that Revere should have authoritatively called Nix off of this ball. Nix is a decent fielder but that was a tough play for him and Revere had all the momentum carrying towards the ball. He might not have even needed to dive to make that catch. Either way, a play that could have, and probably should have been made, wasn’t, and the Reds had runners on second and third as a result. From a process standpoint, Horst induced a fairly weak and relatively shallow flyball that happened to fall in. Cozart didn’t smash a double down the line.

With runners on second and third and one out, Horst then intentionally walked Joey Votto. Yes, I get that Votto is one of the best hitters on the planet and that this set up the force, but it always seems weird to me to have a LOOGY-type intentionally walk a lefty hitter.

Charlie Manuel lifted Horst for Adams with the bases loaded and one out in the tie game. Adams got ahead of Brandon Phillips, 1-2, before the exuberant second baseman grounded a single to right field just past Freddy Galvis‘ glove. Had Galvis been positioned a bit more to his left, or had Phillips swung just slightly earlier or later, we’re possibly looking at an inning-ending double play.

These are the events that actually transpired and, as a result, many fans directed their anger towards Horst, who essentially fielded a swinging bunt well, induced a weak and shallow flyball and was asked to intentionally walk a lefty. The eighth inning was not his fault, nor was it Adams’ for allowing the two-run go-ahead single. The fault for last night’s outing belongs to the mismanagement of the bullpen.

The Phillies have $18 million per year invested in Jonathan Papelbon and Mike Adams and continuously have lesser relievers pitching in make-or-break situations. This represents a material disconnect between the front office and the manager. It isn’t prudent to spend lots of money on players who are used sub-optimally when the salaries they were given are only merited by their most effective usage.

This isn’t to say that Adams was a lock to have a 1-2-3 inning and extend the game. But from a process and decision-making standpoint, the Phillies made an error in not using him to start the eighth.

Avatar of Eric Seidman

About Eric Seidman

Eric Seidman has written 64 articles on Phillies Nation.

Eric offers his unique analytical perspective to Phillies Nation and is a regular contributor on FanGraphs.com.

 
 
  • Posts: 4 bhatter26

    Avatar of bhatter26

    amen to that. it is time for Manuel to go. he has done a lot for this team and is the best manager in phillies history but he has constantly mismanaged games this year and for some reason they have been magnified. Sandberg is the man with Schmitty as your 3rd base coach

     
  • Posts: 0 64 survivor

    correct-a-mundo !

     
  • Posts: 0 Ryan H.

    said this last night. manuel brought in horst because apparently he didn’t want to win. called it before the inning began. could see what followed coming a thousand miles away. it was obvious horst would get tagged up. manuel blew that game last night. absolutely. 100% blew it.

     
    • Posts: 0 schmenkman

      Ryan, who “tagged up” Horst? All I saw were dinks and dunks.

       
  • Posts: 4146 Lefty

    Avatar of Lefty

    I rarely disagree with you Eric, but I have to on this one. Their attempt to keep Adams out of the game was the wise move IMO. In fact I wish they hadn’t used him at all.

    He is coming off of thoracic outlet syndrome surgery, and is now on pace to compile over 81 appearances, with 7 out of 13 games right now. Someone else needs to step up.

    I do agree that Horst pitched well enough, and had some bad luck though. As far as having Horst IBB the lefty Votto, why not? If their intent was to walk him, let the outgoing pitcher do it, not the incoming one. I get that you are suggesting to just let the LOOGY pitch to him, if Brandon Phillips keeps hitting like this, teams will have to start pitching to him. Anyway i don’t blame Horst- Revere should definitely have called Nix off.

     
  • Posts: 0 Mary Pat

    Manuel’s shortcomings as a manager just become more and more apparent with every game. How many games is he gonna cost us before management wakes up?

     
  • Posts: 0 R.C. Collins

    They aren’t a mediocre team because of Charlie – they’re a mediocre team because of the 25 man roster he has to work with.

     
  • Posts: 0 John

    I agree with you Eric 100%. I don’t care if Adams is considered over worked. He pitches 1 inning a game at most. Why did we pick up a 8th inning guy then. His injury was significant but not to the point of a Tommy john surgery. Poor managing period!

     
  • Posts: 120 Dave P

    Avatar of Dave P

    Even if you didn’t want to go with Adams…
    Bastardo should have been the one warming up.

     
  • Posts: 0 George

    I am another who completely disagrees with Eric. Adams is still a risk, having come off of surgery, and has, as Lefty stated, already pitched at a rate that projects to 81 games; too much even for a younger, healthier, arm. And in a situation like that, you should always walk the opposition’s best, most dangerous hitter if only to set up the possible force out.

    This one is not on Manuel, but on shere bad luck.

    I’m tired of all the impossible-to-please arm-chair managers, and would like to see what they’d do to a team. Actually, I don’t think I would, because probably Papelbon and Adams would be on the DL by mid-season, and probably some of the other regulars, too. I’d also like to see how these people would give any experience to inexperienced arms. People always gripe that Manuel doesn’t give youngsters a chance, but when he puts a guy in who doesn’t perform, it’s somehow his fault for not using a veteran.

    I’m not a lover of all Manuel’s (and Dubee’s) moves, but this time the gripes are a gigantic load of crap.

     
    • Posts: 0 Ken Bland

      well

       
      • Posts: 0 Phil Ease

        Ditto

         
  • Posts: 0 George

    One other thing: does anyone ever realize that a relief pitcher throws more pitches than what appears in the boxscore? He has to warm up, and in a hurry, too. He has to be 100% ready when he comes in, and that means going all out on his final pitches in the bullpen.

    In other words, Adams didn’t throw just a few pitches in the past five days. And even if Florida is a garbage team, he can’t just lob the ball over the plate to them. An AAA lineup can still hit lousy pitches.

     
    • Posts: 0 Ken Bland

      stated

       
  • Posts: 80 Dr. Dave

    Avatar of Dr. Dave

    CHUCKLES!!!!!!!! “Nuf said. Bring on Rhyno!!

     
  • Posts: 0 Rudy Canoza

     
  • Posts: 0 Davefromphilly

    Dash Treyhorn disagrees with you. He believes in Jeremy Horst.

     
    • Posts: 4146 Lefty

      Avatar of Lefty

      I didn’t read Dash today, but i thought Eric was supportive of Horst.

       
      • Posts: 146 Eric Seidman

        Avatar of Eric Seidman

        Yeah I believe in Horst, too. I thought I was pretty clear that he just had some bad luck.

         
 
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