Kapler stands behind decision making; Phillies fall in season opener

Philadelphia hurler Aaron Nola
Gabe Kapler knew the questions were going to come about his decision making following the Phillies 8-5 loss to the Braves on Thursday afternoon.

In particular, why did he lift Aaron Nola after just 68 pitches in the sixth inning? Why did he believe reliever Hoby Milner had better odds than Nola to get Freddie Freeman and Nick Markakis out?

"I believe in all of our pitchers," a resolute Kapler said. "All of our guys, all of the guys who pitched tonight, I have tremendous faith in. The reason we brought Hoby in to face those two batters is because we felt a strong degree of confidence that he could get those two batters out."

Milner partially succeeded, getting Markakis to ground out but not before giving up a two-run gopher shot to Freeman allowing the Braves to claw back into the contest.

Markakis later launched the game-winner, a three-run homer off Hector Neris.

"Look, tonight the decisions did not work out in our favor, but I'm very confident over a long period of time that they will," Kapler said.

In addition to taking Nola out after he looked so dominant through five innings, Kapler also removed Rhys Hoskins in the eighth for a defensive replacement, meaning once the Braves evened the contest the Phillies were without their most feared bat in the lineup.



Kapler acknowledged that Thursday is the first game of 162 games this season. It is not an entire chapter in the season, but he also knows that Opening Day sets the tone for what's to follow.

"Look, we are all very competitive people," Kapler said. "It's difficult to lose on Opening Day like that. I also believe in the long view we have. We had an incredible camp with an incredible amount of positive energy. I expect our club to come back tomorrow with that same degree of positive energy. This is going to be one baseball game out of 162 baseball games, and I am still extremely confident that we have the pieces in that room to win a ton of them."

Questions to Ask?
If analytics were a driving force in Kapler's decision making then why allow Hector Neris to pitch to Nick Markakis with the game on the line in the ninth. Entering yesterday, Markakis was 7-for-14 off Neris over his career.

Did You Notice?
Rhys Hoskins swung at the first pitch he saw from Julio Teheran in the first inning, cracking an RBI double down the right-field line. He swung at first pitches just 14.7% of the time last year.

Highest Win Expectancy
According to Fangraphs, Andrew Knapp's two-run to right in the sixth pushed the Phillies' win expectancy to 95.3%.

Player of the Game
Using Win Probability Added, Aaron Nola was the Phillies best player on the field on Thursday with a .301 WPA. He tossed 5 1/3 innings, surrendering one run on three hits. Offensively, Rhys Hoskins finished with a .119 WPA.

Phillies Pitching Combined WPA: -.459
Phillies Offense Combined WPA: -.041
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BY PATRICK GORDON
Managing Editor
pgordon@philadelphiabaseballreview.com

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