As is widely known by now, in the third inning of last night’s unfortunate game against Atlanta, Phillies manager Gabe Kapler went to the mount to relieve Vince Velasquez and bring in lefty Hoby Milner. Unfortunately, for as yet unknown reasons, Milner wasn’t ready to come in, having barely started to warm up.
This is obviously not acceptable. Crew Chief Jerry Layne made an executive decision to allow Milner more time to warm up on the mound than the standard pace-of-play clock provides. Greg Gibson had deducted three of the eight warmup pitches for the delay before Layne overruled him. This in turn raised the ire of Braves’ skipper Brain Snitker, who justifiably took exception to uneven application of the rules; and then unjustifiably threw a tantrum about it, and was ejected.
Kapler owned the mistake, saying after the game that “it’s a pretty good indication that I need to do a better job and I will.” Milner, for his part, said that he was fine. “It was just a miscommunication on the phone that I didn’t get as many warm-up pitches as would be ideal. Fortunately enough I’m the kind of guy that can throw eight pitches and be fine.”
So, a garbled bullpen phone or coaching misfeasance or whatever, it’s clear at least two people were not on the same page yesterday.
Layne comes across as the real winner, here, looking out for the player’s health. The Phillies look awful, and now, it turns out, have been formally scolded by MLB.
Sources: MLB determines that umpire Jerry Layne handled Phillies' pitching change in the right way, given the circumstances; the Phillies will receive a formal warning letter from MLB.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) April 1, 2018
The details of this “warning letter” are sketchy at this point, but this is a pretty rare occurrence. Baseball-Reference doesn’t have “formal warning letters” in their Play Index, but this is the first time that phrase has appeared in a tweet from a baseball writer.
As we uncover more details, this post will be updated. While I believe it’s still far too soon to pass judgement on the Kapler era in Philadelphia, this event is a lot more concerning than an early hook on Opening Day.