Kapler’s analytics come up short on this day
PHILADELPHIA » Gabe Kapler has had better days than Sunday, when analytics clashed with common sense and the Phillies never had a chance in a 10-1 loss to the Atlanta Braves.
Why Kapler didn’t pinch-hit in the seventh inning for reliever Jake Thompson, who struck out with one out and the Phillies trailing, 6-1, was among the more questionable decisions.
Thompson couldn’t pitch his way out of the next inning, the Braves shelling him for three more runs to salt the decision away.
“We discussed it,” Kapler said. “But we would have liked to get a little more length out of Jake, and had he gone out in the following inning and dealt, we would have been fine.”
Another item that Kap had to have discussed was the wind. It was blowing so hard from left to centerfield, the outfield shifts appeared convoluted. You didn’t need a left fielder playing close to the line, as the Phillies did. The wind tunnel effect was driving everything — birds, litter, popcorn, whatever — toward the Schuylkill Expressway.
There was a lot of stuff going on like that all afternoon. We’ll get to more in a few paragraphs.
For now, let’s fight the urge to overreact. The Phillies and Braves both are 16-11 and tied for second in the NL East. OK, the flipside is the Phils are 3-6 against the Braves and 0-2 versus the New York Mets, who lead the division. So close, and yet so far away, it seems.
The loss to the Braves was a reminder that watching the Phillies from start to finish can be more painful than elevator music. The Phillies throw a lot of pitchers out there, who throw a lot of pitches and throw over to first too much. Their batters take a lot of pitches. Their manager stalls to warm up the pitcher in the bullpen despite being down nine runs in the ninth inning.
“You always like to give guys a few extra pitches,” Kapler said. “It’s not an unusual move, is it? From my perspective, sometimes you walk out slow and sometimes you walk out fast. Generally, you walk out slow when you want to give your guys a couple extra pitches.”
Luis Garcia, one of the team’s most effective relievers, sure got some extra pitches. He threw 29 in a game that was over when he got in.
“We wanted to use him today, first and foremost,” Kapler said. “He had been down for three days and we wanted to keep him sharp. We didn’t have to use him but at that point in the game it was the right decision because we felt like he could use the work and we had planned on using him in any big situation.”
Garcia gave up an RBIdouble to former Phillies first-round pick Jesse Biddle. A few batters later, Kapler played stall ball to warm up reliever Drew Hutchison. Catcher Andrew Knapp went to the mound. Kapler tiptoed out there. Finally, the umpires moved it along. And they wonder why they’re losing fans?
Earlier in the frame, Kapler challenged the ruling that Garcia hit Braves batter Kurt Suzuki with a fastball. It’s a shame he lost because that could have been a gamechanger.
When the Phillies get behind in games, it’s like being stuck in the elevator, captive to the music. Just getting out is a blessing.
The tone was set early. Vince Velasquez’s first pitch ended up deep in the right field seats. Ozzie Albies sent it there for his ninth homer, tying him with Charlie Blakmon of Colorado for the NL lead.
The third inning was a clash of analytics and common sense. Kapler left Velasquez in even though he knew he’d regret it. Johan Camargo drilled a three-run homer capping a five-run burst to for a 6-0 Braves cushion.
“A tough day across the board obviously,” Kapler said. “Vinny didn’t come out with his best stuff and that’s going to happen. We’re going to have some starts that aren’t perfect and that was one of them and things sort of got off to a tough start from there.”
Velasquez allowed six earned runs and seven hits - including two home runs - before exiting after the fourth inning. He struck out four and scattered a couple of walks. All of that required 73 pitches. Forty-four were strikes.
Velasquez’s fastball was so ordinary that Phillies color analyst Michael — Schmidt, in the TV booth, said he always enjoyed facing a pitcher who threw a fastball that didn’t move. And Velasquez’s heater, for the most part, doesn’t move.
“His fastball is very straight,” Schmidt said. “And in the middle of the plate at 91 (mph) it’s very hittable.”
It’s only setback.
On the other hand, it took 3-hours, 26-minutes to complete what was a foregone decision in the third inning.
Hopefully the Phillies can learn fro--m that. one game, one
Ozzie Albies, right, set the tone early for the Atlanta Braves when he blasted the first pitch of the game for a solo home run. Not much went right for the Phillies after that as the Braves rolled to a 10-1 victory Sunday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park.