With runners on second and third and two outs in the seventh inning on Sunday and the Mets already down 9-6, Mickey Callaway elected to intentionally walk Andrew Knapp to load the bases for ... Bryce Harper.
Knapp is slashing .194/.326/.259 this season. For comparison, Knapp's OPS is lower than Pete Alonso's slugging percentage.
So, why did Callaway have Tyler Bashlor issue the intentional walk?
According to Callaway, it was to get Phillies reliever Mike Morin (who had been in the No. 9 spot) out of the game. Morin has a 5.14 ERA and 1.23 WHIP this season.
"They had nobody going, right? If you look really closely at their bullpen usage, almost everybody in their bullpen was spent -- that's the reason they had to use (Blake) Parker and (Nick) Vincent seventh and eighth," Callaway explained. "They had (Hector) Neris, you knew he was gonna pitch the ninth. And they wanted Morin to go back out -- that's why they didn't have anybody going. I thought, since they didn't have anybody going, that maybe the pitcher would hit -- one. And if they do pinch-hit, we get their quality reliever that they have left other than Neris out of the game and we have a chance to score some runs."
After intentionally walking Knapp, Bashlor unintentionally walked Harper to force in a run before escaping further damage.
"If we get Harper out real quick, they've got a guy that has thrown two pitches having to come in and pitch against us. It's not the guy that was in there before, who had a much better chance. That was the thinking and unfortunately we kind of tied on that one. Because we gave up one and we scored one."
Off Callaway's explanation, it's fair to infer that his first hope was that Phillies manager Gabe Kapler would let Morin hit with the bases loaded. That didn't happen, and it resulted in Harper coming up with the bags juiced.
No matter what Callaway's hope was, the reasoning used to walk Knapp in that situation was flawed at best. And while the worst case scenario didn't happen with Harper up, a run scored that might not have had Bashlor faced Knapp.
Far too many times this season, Callaway's process has been questionable at best. And for a team that needs every win they can get in order to hang on in the playoff race, those questionable decisions are more glaring.
Watch Callaway's full explanation:
Callaway chose to intentionally walk Knapp to face Harper in hopes of getting one of the Phillies' better relievers out of the game pic.twitter.com/fghYkZWN1A- SNY (@SNYtv) September 8, 2019