I’ve been giving Jerry Manuel a lot of heat for his in-game strategy lately. Most recently, on Saturday I felt he put the Mets into a poor position to win the game when he rested most of his regulars.
That said, I need to give him his due for taking out J.J. Putz in the middle of the eighth inning on Sunday.
After getting the leadoff batter Cody Ross out on a sharp line drive that Gary Sheffield snared, Putz proceeded to walk the next batter, pinch hitter Ross Gload. Gload moves to second base after a single by Chris Coghlan. Emilio Bonifacio follows with a hard single to rightfield, scoring Cody Ross and shrinking the Mets lead to 3-1.
Right at that moment, Manuel walked to the mound and took the ball from his setup man J.J. Putz. His day was over, and for the first time as a New York Met, Putz failed to pitch a complete inning.
Manuel gave the call to young righthanded Bobby Parnell, who continues to progress into a capable late inning option out of the bullpen.
Hanley Ramirez greets Parnell with a single to score Coghlan and put the tying run, Emilio Bonifacio, on third base with one out.
Parnell comes right back and strikes out Mets killer Jorge Cantu for the second out, and ends the game when Jeremy Hermida lifts a harmless fly to right to end the game.
I thought it was gutsy for Manuel to pull Putz when he did rather than letting his setup man get out of the inning himself and clean up his own mess. The switch to Parnell in that situation must have infuriated Putz, because Adam Rubin of the Daily News reported that Putz was not available after the game to answer any questions. He split the scene.
Putz is 1-3 with a 3.88 ERA. His K/9 ratio has slipped from over 10.0 in the last three seasons to just 6.05 since joining the Mets. In 28 innings pitched, Putz has allowed 22 hits and an alarming 18 walks, while striking out 17.
After the game, Manuel talked about his decision to bring in Parnell.
“We continue to try and do what we feel is best to try to win the game,” Manuel said of lifting his setup reliever. “Sometimes those are tough decisions. But if we feel, at that point, that that’s our best chance to win, that’s what we do.”
I’m glad to see that Manuel made the right call, and placed the emphasis on winning the game above all else. He may have ticked off his setup man, but he’s not here to make friends, he’s here to win ball games. Those were the words that Manuel used to greet the media after he took over as interim manager last season. On Sunday, he put those words into action.