PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Gabe Kapler is a percentage-playing guy.
The first-year Phillies’ manager is an analytics disciple, and there doesn’t seem to be much wrong with that, other than the fact that he’s playing the percentages when he sends out Victor Arano, Adam Morgan, who has a 15.75 ERA in June, and Jake Thompson, who has a 6.75 June ERA and a 9.00 ERA against St. Louis, to close out the Cardinals Monday night.
It almost backfired, before Aaron Altherr bailed the Phils out with a two-run double in the 10th to win it, 6-5.
For someone who likes to play the high-percentage game, Kapler doesn’t seem like he’s doing it with the bullpen. Kapler may call it “closer by committee,” but it appears to be more of a case of bullpen roulette.
The Phillies are on a three-game winning streak—despite themselves.
They had a 10-5 lead entering the ninth against Milwaukee on Sunday, then hung on for dear life while the bullpen almost blew it. The bullpen did blow the 4-2 ninth-inning lead the Phils held Monday night, before scrambling back to win in the 10th.
Don’t forget the 7-5 walk-off loss the Phils experienced on the grand slam Jason Heyward hit off of Morgan back on June 6. It is a game that haunts the Phillies, because it could happen more than a few more times this season, before Kapler begins playing the higher percentages and places Seranthony Dominguez in the role of closer, instead of wasting him for two innings in the seventh and eighth.
Set-up man Pat Neshek is still on the mend, and his return could possibly bring some much needed routine to an area that the Phillies need to sure up before they start letting games slip away—like they almost did Sunday and Monday. No one wants to relive the Heyward walk-off again. A closer by committee only appears to encourage a replay.