The San Diego Padres have officially been eliminated from the postseason, with manager Bob Melvin coming under some scrutiny for how he handled Game 5 against the Philadelphia Phillies. The way he used outfielder Trent Grisham, and the way he didn’t use Josh Hader, have some fans wondering what the veteran skipper was doing.
Bryce Harper’s 2-run game-winner being hit against right-hander Robert Suarez instead of the standout southpaw was bad enough, but what happened in the bottom of the ninth inning was even worse. After Brandon Drury and Ha-Seong Kim worked walks, playoff standout Grisham came to the dish.
Rather than swing away against Phillies relief pitcher Ranger Suarez, Grisham laid down a bunt. This ended up advancing the runners to second and third, but Austin Nola was quickly retired. Melvin thought his decision to have Grisham bunt could have worked out better, but he didn’t regret calling for it.
“Grass is wet. Tough lefty on the mound, Melvin said. “First baseman’s back, drag it over there and we’ve got a chance, with a righty up behind him, to potentially knock in the go-ahead run too. So I think it’s a decent play for sure.” The fact he doesn’t see anything wrong with this call is slightly concerning.
Padres manager Bob Melvin is defending his Trent Grisham bunt call.
Grisham may have hit just .184 in the postseason, but he had more clutch plays than anyone else in the Mets Wild Card series. Yes, he was a pitiful 0-19 in the Phillies series, but trying to bunt for a hit in this situation is certainly not going to get that batting average up.
Nola has had some timely hits in this series, including one off his brother Aaron in San Diego, but did Melvin really expect his No. 9 hitter to come through with a two-run single that would extend the series? This shows an alarming lack of confidence in Grisham or way too much faith in Nola.
Robertson was struggling with command, walking two batters and being unable to locate his curveball. Suarez is a starter who just entered the game. Melvin decided to bail Rob Thomson out with this decision, bringing an end to one of the greatest seasons in Padres history with such a disappointing finish.
Melvin is still one of baseball’s best managers, as he helped the Athletics consistently get to the playoffs despite a minimal payroll and orchestrated two huge upsets before this series. Still, this series proves that even the best names out there are capable of some embarrassing screw-ups from time to time.