Hello again everyone! I’m coming to you from southeast Michigan. Most folks here are multi-tasking today: getting ready for the Tigers’ home opener while simultaneously building their arc, as the non-stop rain is still falling (and I have lost count of how many straight days this is ).
Meanwhile, all the Braves fans in Atlanta are getting ready for the home opener against the Phillies. Hopefully this series will go better for the Braves than did the series against the Brewers, where the Braves lost three straight tight games after eeking out a win in the series opener. The series finale provided me with the first tactical move by Gonzalez that I had serious issue with.
Go back with me to the eight inning yesterday afternoon. The Braves have two runners on base with two outs. Alex Gonzalez is due up. Chipper Jones is available to pinch hit, having been given his first day off of the season. Fredi elected to allow Alex to bat for himself against the Brewers’ right handed reliever, putting Chipper in the on-deck circle to bat for the pitcher should Gonzalez keep the inning alive.
I strongly disagree with this decision. Gonzalez is off to a slow start, hitting only .200 as a whole but only .136 against righties. Chipper is off to a decent start, hitting over .300. Chipper is a switch hitter, limiting the moves the Brewers can make. Chipper is a lifetime .260+ pinch hitter, which is actually a very good number for pinch hitters. It is the highest leverage at-bat of the game. If Gonzalez doesn’t keep the inning alive, the
odds of overcoming the two run deficit against the Brewers’ closer go down drastically. I say that Chipper should have hit for Alex, and that it shouldn’t have been a hard decision. I know there are arguments against it, but I think they mostly go along the lines of showing confidence in one of your regulars. That argument doesn’t get far with me, especially in the context of winning what could turn out to be an important game. So, what do you all think?