Last night was the 9th game of the season for the Phillies, but just the first game of the year where we saw the starting pitcher surpass 100 pitches. Ben Lively pitched 5 2/3 innings before Gabe Kapler made the trip to the mound to take the right-hander out of the game, and he was met with a familiar sound.
In each of the 4 home games for the Phillies, Gabe Kapler has dealt with the crowd booing him every time he steps out of the dugout. As someone who was not big on the hiring, there is still a time where you say “enough is enough.” It has reached a point where fans should start rolling their eyes when another fan boos at the sight of Kapler.
There is no question that Kapler has made decisions this season that ended up hurting the Phillies. Taking out Aaron Nola after 68 pitches, putting in Hoby Milner before he even warmed up, putting Nick Williams in shallow right field before a triple was hit over his head… just to name a few. There are more decisions that have left us scratching our heads, but on the other hand, there have been decisions that have put the Phillies in good positions to win.
There were two moments last night in the Phillies 6-5 win over the Cincinnati Reds that show where analytics can work. In the top of the 9th inning, left-handed hitter Joey Votto was up to bat with no runners on base. If you are a baseball fan, you are not surprised when you see a shift for a left-handed hitter when the 2nd baseman is standing out in shallow right field, but Kapler still had his own twist on it last night.
Kapler shifted César Hernández even more toward the right field foul line than we are used to seeing during a move like this. The move paid off when Votto struck a line drive right to where Hernández was standing which put closer Hector Neris just one out away from the save. That move of course was not as big as the one we saw in the bottom of the 8th inning which won the game for the Phillies.
Nick Williams is not holding back his feelings toward the “computer” that tells Gabe Kapler to sit him on certain nights. Williams understands that it is out of his control, but like most young baseball players, he is upset with the lack of playing time he is receiving. During last night’s game, Williams was given the opportunity to make an impact and he did that in a big way.
In the bottom of the 8th, the analytics told Gabe Kapler that it was time to put in Nick Williams to pinch hit for pitcher Luis Garcia. With the count at 3-1, Williams drove a fastball deep into the Reds bullpen in centerfield to give the Phillies the 6-5 lead. At that time, the computer that Williams is not fond of, said that he was the best option to hit against right-handed pitcher Kevin Quackenbush.
Those two moves last night were big reasons why the Phillies won their 4th game of the season to put their record at 4-5. Along with those two moves, Kapler did a great job working the bullpen after pulling Ben Lively in the 6th inning. The combination of Adam Morgan, Yacksel Rios, Luis Garcia, and Hector Neris pitched 3 1/3 innings without allowing a run and only gave up 2 hits. It was a good night for Gabe Kapler and the Phillies.
It was fair for the Phillies fans during the Home Opener to boo Gabe Kapler when he was introduced during the pregame ceremonies. You could make a case that it was okay for fans to boo when he pulled Nick Pivetta in the 6th inning of the game. But now that we are 9 games into the season, 4 games at home (3 of which they won), I think it’s time we stop booing every single move. There will be a move again soon that ends up hurting the Phillies in some way, but like last night, we will see moves that help the team ultimately win a ball game.
Until that next move is made that hurts the team, keep your mouths shut when Kapler steps out of the dugout. You do not have to like him. You do not have to cheer for him. We should not forget about the bad moves that he has made, but it does not look good when we continue to boo after the team has won 3 of its last 4 games.
- Andrew Salciunas - Phillies Contributor for 975thefanatic.com
- Producer of the Mayes and Myrtetus Midday Show - Monday-Friday 10:00a-2:00p