Many have criticized Phillies manager Charlie Manuel for his bullpen usage to start the season. Specifically, his non-use of $50 million man Jonathan Papelbon in high-leverage situations against the Pittsburgh Pirates, and his use earlier this afternoon in a low-leverage spot against the Florida Marlins.
The table below lists each plate appearance for every Phillies reliever in the four games thus far, ordered by Leverage Index (LI). Papelbon is highlighted in red.
LI (leverage index): A measure of how important a particular situation is in a baseball game depending on the inning, score, outs, and number of players on base, created by Tom Tango.
Baselines: The average LI is 1 and is considered a neutral situation. 10% of all real game situations have a LI greater than 2, while 60% have a LI less than 1.
Papelbon’s highest-leverage spot ranks 14th on the list, and four of his seven spots rank in the bottom-seven, including the lowest-two. Due to Manuel’s adherence to old baseball orthodoxy — the save rule — the Phillies have not been optimally deploying their relievers. As a result, they lost very winnable games in Pittsburgh over the weekend.