Breaking Down the Managerial Decisions of the Seventh Inning

Lisa Blumenfeld

Analyzing Don and Fredi's Moves in the Crucial Seventh Frame

The Braves were able to get Zack Greinke out after just six innings, which in and of itself is a big success. The Braves have to feel like they have an advantage in a bullpen game and they entered the bottom of the seventh up 2-1.

Decision 1: Don Mattingly brought in right-handed reliever Chris Withrow to start the inning to face Brian McCann, a left-handed hitter. At this point in time, it does not seem like gaining the platoon advantage is of the utmost importance, as Mattingly opted to go with this matchup at the outset of the inning. If I had to do it, I would probably bring in J.P. Howell, Chris Capuano, or Paco Rodriguez and go to Withrow. In having three left-handed relievers and just nine outs to get, the Dodgers could bring in a lefty for each of McCann, Heyward, and Freeman should they so choose. This is the first decision I did not completely agree with but I hardly thought it was a huge deal.

Decision 2: Fredi Gonzalez pinch runs B.J. Upton for Brian McCann. I liked this move. The Braves have three pinch runners on the roster in Upton, Jordan Schafer, and Jose Constanza and McCann is one of the least fleet of foot players on the roster. McCann would probably get another plate appearance, but with nobody out it is important to get that extra insurance run and Upton's speed gives the Braves a much better chance to make that happen. Add in the fact that Upton was going to either come in for Gattis or McCann (moving Gattis to catcher) for defensive purposes anyway and it makes even more sense. Savy move despite losing a good bat in the switch.

Decision 3: Andrelton Simmons sacrifice bunts. Chris Johnson followed McCann's walk with a single of his own, which brought up Andrelton Simmons who has looked rather good in the two games so far. People can argue the merits of whether a bunt adds or detracts from the likelihood of scoring a run here, but even looking past that the biggest issue is that Simmons was bunting with Elliot Johnson and a pinch hitter behind him. The Braves stated when they opted to go with this type of bench that it was a defensive replacement bench and not a pinch hitting one. The Braves do not have a great pinch hit option, especially against right-handed pitchers. This is a decent sized concern that Fredi would be willing to take the bat out of Andrelton's hands and allow one of the worst hitters playing in the post-season to be the guy they need to bring in at least one run. Alas, Johnson struck out looking at a very obvious pitch.

Decision 4: Jose Constanza is brought in to pinch hit. This was a pretty smart move by Fredi, even though some may not agree. I am of the opinion that Fredi was very confident that Mattingly would bring in a lefty to face Constanza if he opted to bring him in, which is exactly what happened. It was definitely a risky decision as Constanza is not a good hitter and has not had many plate appearances in September.

Decision 5: Mattingly brings in Paco Rodriguez to face Jose Constanza. This was the most egregious decision made by either manager in this inning, in my opinion. Constanza, as mentioned above, is not a good hitter. Chris Withrow is not a dominant reliever but I like his odds against Constanza. After all, Mattingly was willing to let him start the inning against McCann and now he won't let him face Constanza in a pinch? If he lets Withrow face Constanza then Fredi's decision backfires and they now have one of their weakest hitters up in one of the biggest spots in the game.

Decision 6: The Braves pinch hit Reed Johnson for Constanza. This was an obvious move. Once the lefty is announced the Braves take Constanza out and bring in a guy who has had a lot of success against lefties in his career. This was a no brainer.

Decision 7: Mattingly intentionally walks Reed Johnson. Many will look at this as the worst decision of the inning but it only happens if Mattingly takes Withrow out in the first place. This was an extremely poor decision, in my opinion, as adding another runner gives the Braves the opportunity to add another run with one swing of the bat. Add that to the fact that they walked Reed Johnson to get to Jason Heyward (!) and you can see why Dodger fans are upset with Mattingly after that call. After Johnson was walked Heyward came in and added what ended up being two gigantic insurance runs.

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Overall this was an oddly managed inning all around. I am no managing expert but there seemed to be at least a tad of over-managing in this inning. The only move I did not like from Fredi was bunting Andrelton, while Mattingly had a good amount of moves I disagreed with. What did you guys think? How would you have managed the bottom of the seventh inning on each side?

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