NLDS Managerial Report Card: Brian Snitker


Brian Snitker
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports activities

As I’ve accomplished for the previous few years, I’m going to be grading every eradicated postseason supervisor on their decision-making. We spend the yr principally ignoring managers’ on-field contributions, as a result of to be sincere, they’re fairly small. Utilizing the incorrect reliever within the eighth inning simply doesn’t really feel that dangerous on June 22; there are such a lot of extra video games nonetheless coming, and the common season is extra about managing the grind than getting each doable edge daily. The playoffs aren’t like that; with so few video games to separate wheat from chaff, each final ounce of win chance issues, and managers make personnel selections accordingly. What higher time to grade them?

My aim is to judge every supervisor by way of course of, not outcomes. In case you herald your greatest pitcher to face their greatest hitter in an enormous spot, that’s a very good choice no matter end result. Attempt a triple steal with the bases loaded solely to have the opposite crew make 4 throwing errors to attain three runs? I’m in all probability going to name {that a} blunder regardless that it labored out. Managers do loads of different issues — getting crew buy-in for brand spanking new methods and unconventional bullpen utilization behind closed doorways is a talent I discover significantly precious — however as I’ve no perception into how that’s achieved or how every supervisor differs, I can’t precisely assign grades for it.

I’m additionally purposefully avoiding imprecise qualitative issues like “trusting your veterans as a result of they’ve been there earlier than.” Playoff protection lovingly focuses on clutch performs by confirmed performers, however Josh Jung and Geraldo Perdomo have been nice, too. Neglect trusting your veterans; the playoffs are about trusting your greatest gamers. Zack Wheeler is vital as a result of he’s an important participant, not due to the variety of playoff sequence he’s appeared in. There’s nothing inherently good about having been round a very long time; after I’m evaluating selections, “however he’s a veteran” simply doesn’t enter my thought course of.

I’ve already coated the dropping managers of the Wild Card spherical and the opposite division sequence eliminations. Immediately, it’s Brian Snitker’s flip.

Brian Snitker, Atlanta Braves
Batting: C-
The Braves have the sort of lineup that feels constructed for October, at the very least to me: few simply attackable hitters who should be out of the sport in opposition to lefty specialists. Sadly, they paired that with a reasonably weak bench: whichever of Sean Murphy or Travis d’Arnaud wasn’t beginning could be their greatest pinch-hitter relying on which model of Murphy you get that day. That made Snitker’s selections fairly simple; he platooned Kevin Pillar and Eddie Rosario and in any other case had a constant defensive alignment, although he spent a little bit of time shuffling lineup spots.

The lineup spot shuffling doesn’t matter a lot to me, which suggests there’s not a lot to say about Snitker’s early-series batting selections. Pillar is an effective possibility in opposition to Ranger Suárez. Rosario is an effective possibility in opposition to Philly’s righty relievers. Snitker made no different consequential selections in Recreation 1.

In Recreation 2, I wish to spotlight one choice that I’ll reference in a while: with José Alvarado pitching and compelled to face the following batter due to the three-batter minimal, Michael Harris II was due as much as lead off the inning. It was a vital spot, with the Braves trailing by a run. Snitker opted to let Harris hit for himself, a call I agree with. Simply maintain that one in thoughts. That apart, it was extra of the identical: platoon Rosario and Pillar, and no different shifting components.

In Recreation 3, “catastrophe” struck: Pillar entered to face a lefty reliever within the sixth, then confronted a righty reliever within the eighth. In equity, the Braves had been down 8–2 on the time, so profitable the sport was in all probability not the very first thing on Snitker’s thoughts, however he pinch-hit for Pillar utilizing Forrest Wall, who’s undoubtedly left-handed. That’s sort of the tip of his resume: he’s a 27-year-old profession minor leaguer who’s primarily round as an emergency defensive outfielder. He obtained a playoff at-bat, although, in order that’s cool.

The choice I’m not fairly positive about got here in Recreation 4. Pillar was again within the beginning lineup with Suárez on the mound. After a stable begin from Suárez, the Braves discovered themselves in a well-recognized scenario: down two runs, with Harris because of face Alvarado. This time, Alvarado might depart at any time, having already confronted 5 batters. However this time, Snitker pinch-hit for Harris with d’Arnaud, which predictably chased Alvarado from the sport, with Craig Kimbrel coming in early to carry the lead.

I’m undecided whether or not I favor the Harris/Alvarado matchup to the d’Arnaud/Kimbrel one, however Snitker had voted the other approach earlier within the sequence (albeit with a special possible pinch-hitter, as d’Arnaud was beginning that day). And there have been significant implications: the Phillies’ subsequent two relievers within the leverage hierarchy are each lefties, and the Braves had Wall within the lineup pinch-running for Orlando Arcia. Burning d’Arnaud for a matchup that doesn’t even appear higher to me gave them much less flexibility, and it additionally took Harris out of the sport.

To be truthful, these spots within the lineup weren’t assured to bat. But when the Braves had been going to win the sport, they’d bat — one out within the seventh, six outs the remainder of the best way, and the 2 runs essential to tie makes 9 batters. A technique or one other, the Braves weren’t profitable with out Wall’s spot developing within the lineup once more.

That’s how you find yourself with Rosario, who I’ve spent a complete part describing as a lefty who solely faces righties, pinch-hitting in opposition to a lefty pitcher. That’s how you find yourself with Vaughn Grissom, who barely performed within the majors this yr, pinch-hitting for Nicky Lopez (who was the defensive sub for d’Arnaud). The Braves had been skinny on the hitting aspect. Pinch-hitting for a bona fide good hitter to get a tiny benefit — if any — strikes me as the one mistake Snitker made, however man, I actually don’t get what he was considering there. I can’t give him a better grade than a C-, as a result of the diploma of issue in managing these hitters was very low, and I’m nonetheless puzzling over the largest choice he made all sequence.

Pitching: B-
Snitker made a reputation for himself as a postseason supervisor, at the very least in my eyes, with a masterful strategy to reduction pitching within the 2021 playoffs. He understood sport scenario effectively and used his high-leverage arms liberally once they mattered, however he additionally protected them when video games obtained out of hand. This yr, the circle of belief went deeper into the ‘pen: I rely between 5 and 7 relievers the Braves appeared keen to belief, relying on how you are feeling about AJ Smith-Shawver and Brad Hand. Snitker adjusted his techniques by utilizing good relievers extra liberally.

In Recreation 1, the Braves by no means scored whereas Spencer Strider threw seven two-run innings. A.J. Minter and Pierce Johnson allowed one other run within the eighth, which results in the primary choice I didn’t love: why use Raisel Iglesias down three runs within the ninth? There was an off day developing, however I’m not enamored with giving Kyle Schwarber a have a look at my nearer free of charge.

Once more, the Atlanta bullpen was deep this yr. In Recreation 2, Snitker leaned on it. Max Fried regarded exceedingly hittable in 4 innings of labor and obtained right into a jam with two on, two out, and Bryce Harper on the plate within the high of the fourth. Already trailing 3–0 and with Fried visibly struggling, I feel I’d have gone to a reliever in that spot, but it surely’s an in depth choice; Fried is a lefty, Minter was certain to do loads of Harper responsibility this sequence, and Hand is nobody’s concept of a positive factor to get Harper out.

After that, the items snapped into place. 5 relievers every pitched one inning, and Snitker discovered that high-leverage spot for Minter in spite of everything; he obtained the highest of the Philadelphia lineup with a one-run deficit, then walked Harper to start out the ninth inning, establishing a wild end. This was classic Snitker: a sequence of hammers in an vital sport.

Additionally classic Snitker: a fast punt in Recreation 3. Bryce Elder obtained into huge hassle in a rush. With two outs and no one on in a tie sport, issues felt wonderful. Then Philly went single-homer-single-walk and uh oh, issues had been wanting awkward. Snitker waved the white flag by sending in Michael Tonkin, who gave up a two-run double to set issues off. The underside of the Atlanta bullpen dealt with the more and more out-of-hand sport. I don’t hate utilizing Tonkin there; Elder obtained lit up so early within the sport that the high-leverage arms couldn’t presumably deal with the complete remaining quantity of innings. Snitker came upon rapidly whether or not this might be a sport price taking part in by placing considered one of his weaker hyperlinks in early. Seems, it wasn’t Atlanta’s day, so he saved some bullpen innings in opposition to a cruising Aaron Nola.

Because it seems, he didn’t do lots with that bullpen flexibility. Strider had no really feel for his slider in Recreation 4, alternately hanging it within the zone and bouncing it in uncompetitive areas. He labored by means of 5.2 innings, surrendering three solo homers within the course of, and was clearly off the entire time. The Phillies blistered the ball in opposition to him; it took every kind of guile and loads of rising to the event simply to maintain it to that.

The third homer is on Snitker, so far as I’m involved. Strider got here again out for the sixth inning with Atlanta trailing 2–1. Once more, he didn’t have it. It’s not simply the slider meatballs; he’d allowed six hits and three walks already, an especially un-Strider line. In case you shield your bullpen so assiduously in blowout losses, you must use them right here! However Snitker caught with Strider, and Nick Castellanos obtained on high of a fastball. It wasn’t laborious to guess what was coming, as Strider threw 16 pitches in his final inning of labor: 14 fastballs, a slider that was nowhere close to the zone, and a changeup in opposition to a lefty. The Phillies knew he was down to at least one pitch. Strider knew he was down to at least one pitch. Snitker needed to have recognized, and he ought to have acted.

It wasn’t a banner yr for the Braves, at the very least in October. It wasn’t Snitker’s greatest work both. He stays head and shoulders above the gang in relation to reducing his losses. This time, although, he missed a couple of selections that didn’t fall into the traditional fight-or-flight dichotomy. I’m positive that he, like the complete Braves crew, will spend the winter ruing missed probabilities.

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