Use Pap or Not?

I have received lots of questions about Jonathan Papelbon since yesterday’s 5-4 loss to Pittsburgh.

The Phillies lost two consecutive games on walk-offs, and the Phillies did not use Papelbon either time. Fans want to know why the Phillies didn’t use him. The reason is simple: managers do not like to use their closer in tie games on the road. Charlie Manuel doesn’t. Larry Bowa didn’t. Honestly, if you can find a manager that regularly uses his closer in tie games on the road please let me know. I know that answer isn’t going to be satisfactory for many, but managers want their closer pitching in save situations. Use your closer in a tie game one night then maybe he’s not available the next night when you have a save situation. Think about it that way, too. You can’t pitch the guy every day.

Now, Rich Dubee said he thought about having Papelbon pitch in Saturday’s game, but only because he didn’t want Papelbon warming up several times during the night (think about what happened to Brad Lidge in the 2008 All-Star Game … not good).

“How many times am I going to crank Pap up?” Dubee said.

But why didn’t the Phillies use Papelbon with two outs in the eighth inning yesterday? The Phillies had a one-run lead, so it was a save situation. Papelbon has pitched more than an inning in a save situation 39 times in his career. He has pitched one or fewer innings in a save situation 210 times.

He is 2-1 with a 2.09 ERA and 31 saves (79.5 percent) when he pitches more than an inning.

He is 2-11 with a 2.52 ERA and 189 saves (90 percent) when he pitches one or fewer innings.

“It’s a little early,” Dubee said. “You want me to run him out there 162 games? It’s hard. You’ve got nobody else to close the game. If you had somebody with experience closing the game, if you had (Jose) Contreras, then you might think about doing it.”

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11 Comments

I never understood why managers hold onto their closer on the road like that. I’d rather use Pap in the bottom of the 9th of a tied game (where if you give up 1 run, you lose) than save him for the bottom of the 10th with a 1-run lead (where if you give up 1 run, you play on). Seems to me the stakes are higher in a tied game where 1 run ends the game.

The real issue is we lost 2 1-run games in a row and our $50 million dollar closer, who looked excellent on Thursday, who also happens to be our best relief pitcher by a long shot, did not get used in either of them. You do not have to be sabermetrically inclined to understand how flawed this system of thinking is. In some cases using advanced statistics is over thinking a simple equation. Nonetheless this is a case where you are essential putting in a lesser player. It is the equivalent of not using your best pinch hitter with the bases loaded in the sixth inning just in case he is needed later in the game, where the opportunity to use him may or may not arise. If the game is not still happening, you cannot use the better player. Wasted opportunities.

Everyone’s always smarter than the manager. If you use Pap in the 9th, then you put “SMDH Herndon” in to lose the 10th. If the Phils going to lose the game, I’d rather have them do it in 9 innings instead of delaying the inevitable.

I totally understand this – it is only the first 3 games! Different story in Sept. No worries here.

I” never understood why managers hold onto their closer on the road like that. I’d rather use Pap in the bottom of the 9th of a tied game (where if you give up 1 run, you lose) than save him for the bottom of the 10th with a 1-run lead (where if you give up 1 run, you play on). Seems to me the stakes are higher in a tied game where 1 run ends the game.”

Perfectly put!

“Everyone’s always smarter than the manager. If you use Pap in the 9th, then you put “SMDH Herndon” in to lose the 10th. If the Phils going to lose the game, I’d rather have them do it in 9 innings instead of delaying the inevitable.”

Much like the author of this article, terrible logic.

You get to extra innings of a tie game on the road, you have one goal, and one goal in mind, and that is to get to the 10th inning, and try to score. To not use your best pitcher there, is to not give yourself the best chance of winning, which is the manager’s job. Baseball was played for many tears before the closer role was invented, when the best reliever was a fireman, and he would pitch in whatever situation was the highest leverage situation. Now that we have the save, managers don’t have to think anymore about their bullpen usage. Just plug players into their holes, and wait until their allotted role comes up. It’s lazy managing, and they can offer as many excuses as they’d like, but seeing as Papelbon pitched today with the team already down 2 runs, it’s obviously garbage.

In fact, if Papelbon had pitched Saturday in a tie game, and then was unavailable the next day when the team had a 2 or 3 run lead, that’s ok, since you get more value out of using your better player in the higher leverage situation on Saturday night and not having him available in a much lower leverage situation the next night.

but he can pitch in this game? hahahahahaha have some guts and criticize the manager

I would not have used him Saturday, but I definitely would have brought him in close out the 8th yesterday and get the four out save.

Pingback: Philadelphia Phillies: Charlie Manuel’s Early Use of Jonathan Papelbon Baffling | :: Sparxxrx LLC ::

I agree with Charlie on this … its very early in the year and you dont want the guy pitching in tie games on the road, makes alot of sense. It also has nothing to do with how much he makes, his arm can get used up just as quick as a guy making 2 million.

wait, so the time to save papelbons arm is a tie game in the 9th inning, but not when youre losing by 3 in the 9th? are you kidding me?

If you use your closer on the road in a tie game to keep it tied, who’s going to pitch the bottom of the next inning? What if your team doesn’t score in the top of the next inning? What if the meat of the lineup comes up in the bottom of the following inning? The Phils don’t have a good pen right now. Charlie did the right thing, IMO.

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