Kapler’s Bullpen Malfunction

Not since Ryne Sandberg and the infamous white-flag waving incident in Baltimore has a manager had as big of a malfunction in communicating with his bullpen than Gabe Kapler had Saturday night. Baseball 101; if you’re contemplating a pitching change, be sure that you have a reliever throwing in the bullpen.

Saturday night, Kapler strode toward starter Vince Velasquez, who already been hit for nine hits and allowed two walks in 2 2/3 innings of work, and wanted left-hander Hoby Milner to come into his third straight game facing Freddie Freeman as the first batter he faced each time. One problem; Milner was standing around in the bullpen in his warm-up jacket and hadn’t thrown a pitch or even stretched to warm up.

Oops!

The move brought about a ton of confusion as Milner quickly picked up a ball and started to throw after having been motioned into the game. Umpire Greg Gibson had to walk nearly all the way to the bullpen to get Milner to enter the game and then deducted three warm-up pitches from his allotment of eight from the field mound because he had continued to throw after being summoned from the bullpen. Braves manager Brian Snitker thought that because of the infraction, he shouldn’t be allowed any from the field mound and vociferously made his argument to the point of being tossed out of the game.

Home plate umpire Jerry Layne allowed Milner to have five warm-up tosses stating that he didn’t want Milner to get hurt because of the blunder. He seemed to indicate that he wasn’t happy about what happened and that Major League Baseball should handle things from there.

“Whoever is at fault for not doing their job on the Phillies side should have to answer to Major League Baseball,” Layne told a pool reporter following the game.

For his part, Kapler told reporters that Milner had thrown in the bullpen, but accepted responsibility for what he called a “miscommunication” and accepted responsibility because it happened on his watch. He then went into a familiar refrain that he’s repeated after each of the season’s first three games, about looking at the “long view” and stating that he has confidence in his players and coaches.

All in all, it was a bad weekend for Kapler. He used 21 pitchers – including utility man Pedro Florimon – to cover 28 innings. Relievers recorded 11 more outs in the series than starting pitchers did and the most pitches thrown in the series were by starter Nick Pivetta who threw 73 pitches in four innings in what turned out to be an extra innings 5-4 win for the Phillies on Friday night. In the three games, Phillies starters combined to throw just 210 pitches while relievers delivered 293 pitches.

The Phillies lost 15-2 Saturday night with Atlanta picking up 19 hits in the game. Rhys Hoskins went 1-for-2, holding his average at .500 (5-for-10) on the season. Scott Kingery started at shortstop and collected two doubles and is now hitting .444 (4-for-9) in the two games that he’s played.

To make matters worse, the Phillies collected four errors including fielding errors by Maikel Franco and Carlos Hernandez and throwing errors on Jorge Alfaro and J.P. Crawford.

The Phillies are off Sunday and open a three-game series in New York Monday facing the Mets. Ben Lively will start Monday night for the Phillies against the Mets Matt Harvey.

Chuck Hixson

Chuck has a wide and varied background in covering sports both locally and nationally. Living in the Lehigh Valley area of Pennsylvania, Chuck has the distinction of being the only person to have covered both the Lehigh Valley IronPigs and Lehigh Valley Phantoms in every season of their existence. Chuck began covering sports in 1998 when he was the first program director and morning host at WTKZ-AM in Allentown, Pennsylvania when the station switched to an all sports format. Chuck produced the stations coverage of the Allentown Ambassadors baseball team, which played in the independent Northeast League. From there, Chuck was the editor and writer of Pinstripes magazine, covering Phillies baseball. That led to Chuck founding Philly Baseball Insider in 2003. Chuck has done freelance work for national entities such as USA TODAY, CBS, FOX Sports, Washington Times and others.

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