Commentary

Don Mattingly's first mistake

Leaving Kershaw in the game didn't cost the new manager a win, but it could have

Originally Published: April 1, 2011
By Dave Cameron | FanGraphs
Clayton KershawKirby Lee/Image of Sport/US PresswireDon Mattingly left his ace, Clayton Kershaw, in a little too long on Thursday.

Don Mattingly won his first game as a major league manager Thursday night, as his Los Angeles Dodgers knocked off the San Francisco Giants behind a stellar pitching performance from Clayton Kershaw. However, while all of his moves "worked" in retrospect, Mattingly made one big rookie mistake that could have cost the Dodgers the game -- he left Kershaw in the game too long.

In the bottom of the sixth inning, the Dodgers capitalized on some defensive miscues to break the scoreless tie and take a 1-0 lead. However, after Rod Barajas lined out for the second out of the inning, Bruce Bochy opted to intentionally walk Jamey Carroll to load the bases and bring Kershaw to the plate, forcing Mattingly to choose whether to let Kershaw hit in order to pitch the seventh inning or go to the bench and then use a reliever to get the next three outs.

Mattingly chose to stick with Kershaw, which is understandable considering how well he had been pitching. However, like football coaches who punt far too often on fourth down, that's a conservative call that actually lowers a team's chances of winning.


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