Feedback: Nationals 8, Phillies 5

Please see me in my office, young man. - Greg Fiume

The assignment was to produce an enjoyable and successful baseball game, but I'm not sure that you quite understood that assignment in spirit.

The Phillies,

I really appreciate your effort in putting together this baseball game, but I'm afraid that it was not consistent in its execution.  I'll explain. On the positive side, I really enjoyed the first few innings of tonight's game. I felt that your use of Cliff Lee was actually quite brilliant.  Using a starting pitcher that can go fairly deep into the game -- six innings -- and one who can strike out batters without walking too many -- six strikeouts and only two walks -- is always a very sound strategy.  I will confess that I was a bit worried when Cliff Lee gave up three earned runs, but I thought that his smattering of ground out earned runs and singles and bunts were encouraging enough.  No home runs this time! Great work there.  Also, I think the use of some of your batters was quite impressive: Domonic Brown and Darin Ruf's home runs were well conceived and nicely executed, even if the latter was a bit oddly timed, and you know that I am always pleased when you include some Cliff Lee related offense.  So, there were absolutely bright spots here.

That said, I still found some serious difficulties in the latter half of your game, and I worry that you are not thinking through the full extent of your composition.  For instance, using Jake Diekman in a high leverage situation is reasonable enough, but only against lefties.  We went over this recently in class: Diekman has a 2.43 FIP against left-handed hitters and a 4.42 FIP against right-handed hitters for his career.  It is just not a good idea to pitch Diekman against right handed batters.  Unfortunately, you threw Diekman against a switch-hitter (S. Lombardozzi), a right-handed batter (R. Zimmerman), both of whom walked. The really careless move, however, was allowing Zach Miner to serve as a stopper in a tie game.  I don't mean to be cruel, but this is how bad eighth innings start; I know you're trying, but Zach Miner should not be pitching in the seventh inning of a tie baseball game. We talked about how bullpen collapses are not pure chance, that they are made with bad decisions.  This is as high-leverage as it gets, and it just fell apart here for me.

And I don't want you to get entirely discouraged. Like I said, Brown's homerun in the eighth was a nice rhetorical flair.  And Luis Garcia was an enjoyable surprise (perhaps if you are uncomfortable using Jonathan Papelbon in non-save situations -- something I would suggest you adapt away from! -- you could use Garcia?).  But in the end, this was yet another problematic late-inning loss, one that I would hope that you would be a bit more attentive to by this point in the season. Again, I appreciate that you are trying, and I am sure that you are disappointed by this outcome as well.  But while these kinds of things are learning experiences earlier in the season, by this point in the year, you should have fixed some of these errors.  If you can pick better pitchers, make better plays, and, most importantly, fix the mechanical and editing errors in your placement of relievers, you'll excel.  Please let me know if you have any questions.


(PS please see your graphically worked out grading curve below).

Source: FanGraphs

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