Phillies experts and media people have been discussing a major point from last night’s thrilling comeback win over the Astros: pulling Pat Burrell.
We all have been wondering if the Phils would’ve won last night if Charlie Manuel pulled Pat Burrell, as he regularly does, late in the game. He struck out in the seventh inning; if he got on base, he may have been replaced by So Taguchi as a pinch runner. Instead, he remained in the game and provided the huge game-tying blast.
Clearly it’s a definite point of contention, as Burrell’s awesome bat (he’s the top hitter in all of baseball since June 2007) is only available for six to seven innings per game most days. Do we remove the bat or risk having late defensive issues?
I went through Burrell’s game logs from 2007 (2008 is too small a sample yet) and found every time Burrell started and was subbed for someone late in the game:
Burrell pulled in sixth inning: 6-1
Only one game of these seven was close â€” a three-run lead. The others were blowouts.
Burrell pulled in seventh inning: 24-8
Only twice was Burrell pulled in a tie game â€” a win and a loss â€” and once when they were losing by less than three runs. Almost all of the times he was pulled with a lead, and six times the bullpen blew the lead in the seventh or later.
Burrell pulled in eighth inning: 25-7
For the most part, Manuel pulled Burrell with a lead, but many of these games were three-run games or less. Three times he pulled Burrell while the game was tied; twice he pulled him down by three or less (both one-run games).
Burrell pulled in ninth inning: 11-6
Manuel pulled him four times in a tie game (2-2); three times he pulled Burrell for a pinch runner when down a run (0-3). All other instances came with a lead or being down more than one.
Burrell pulled after ninth inning: 4-0
Each time Burrell was subbed for a pinch runner; only once did that runner score, but the Phils won each game.
Total record when Burrell starts and is subbed: 70-22
That’s remarkable â€” in almost every Phillies win, Burrell wasn’t in the game at the end. Most of the losses were either blowouts or bullpen blowups.
Moreover, most of the times Burrell was pulled in ties or close losses were very late in the game, when Manuel probably figured he could live without using Burrell’s bat maybe once more (even moreso, all of these times losing were only by one run, instances in which a pinch runner is more integral). Earlier in the game, it was harder for Manuel to pull the trigger.
Bottom line, clearly Manuel doesn’t like taking The Bat out of the lineup in such a close game, and he probably wouldn’t have done so last night.
Associated Press photo