Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Why didn't Papelbon pitch?

In the wake of two walk-off defeats at the hands of Pittsburgh, more than a few people have wondered how the Phillies could lose without using their best reliever. Jonathan Papelbon is being paid more than any closer in baseball history and he never left the bullpen.

Why didn't Papelbon pitch?

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Jonathan Papelbon did not pitch in the Phillies´ weekend losses to the Pirates. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)
Jonathan Papelbon did not pitch in the Phillies' weekend losses to the Pirates. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)

In the wake of two walk-off defeats at the hands of Pittsburgh, more than a few people have wondered how the Phillies could lose without using their best reliever. Jonathan Papelbon is being paid more than any closer in baseball history and he never left the bullpen.

The short answer: Charlie Manuel, and just about every single manager in baseball, plays those decisions by the book. If the road team is tied or losing, the closer stays in the bullpen until he has a lead to save. That's the philosophy the Phillies followed.

Still, there was a spot for Papelbon to protect a lead Sunday. With two outs and runners on first and second, the Pirates used righthanded hitting Matt Hague as a pinch-hitter against lefty Antonio Bastardo. The Phillies still led, 4-3.

Pitching coach Rich Dubee said there was no inclination to use Papelbon for a four-out save.

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"No. It's too early," Dubee said. "You want to run them out there every 162 games?"

Papelbon is 31 for 39 in saves of more than three outs for his career. But he had only one last season. There's been a downward trend in his usage during those situations.

SAVES OF FOUR OUTS OR MORE
2011: 1-2
2010: 2-4
2009: 6-6
2008: 11-11
2007: 3-3
2006: 8-13

Dubee said he's rarely seen an instance where a manager used his closer on the road in a tie game. But he thought about doing it in Saturday's 10th inning until he realized there was one downside. Papelbon had already warmed up twice.

"It was like [Brad] Lidge in the All-Star Game, am I going to crank him seven times and pitch him?" Dubee said. "I was thinking maybe one more inning and I might talk Charlie into using him. It's hard. We have nobody else to close the game. Now if we had somebody else to close, like [Jose] Contreras behind, we might think about doing it.

"You can make any argument you want."


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