In one of the more shocking moments of managerial incompetence you will see, Los Angeles Dodgers‘ manager Don Mattingly actually out mismanaged Atlanta Braves‘ counterpart Fredi Gonzalez on Saturday night’s NLDS Game 2. In the bottom of the seventh, Mattingly sent in Chris Withrow to distinguish an Atlanta offensive burst, but he walked the leadoff hitter and gave up a single after that.
Gonzalez then decided to have Andrelton Simmons, who has been hot with the bat as of late, bunt the runners over with expecting the bat of Elliot Johnson to drive a run home, but he failed to do so, leaving it all up to a pinch hitter.
This is where it gets interesting.
Mattingly foolishly doesn’t pitch to Jose Constanza, who was set to pinch hit for Luis Avilan, but instead, chooses to go to the bullpen. With a lefty coming in, Gonzalez responded by replacing Costanza with Reed Johnson. At this point, with Jason Heyward in the on-deck circle, Mattingly astoundingly chose to intentionally walk Johnson in favor of the lefty-lefty matchup against Heyward.
The act of disrespect was almost laughable. Following, the Braves provided many opportunities to criticize management with Gonzalez at the helm, but you’ll rarely come across such a managing blunder. I can only imagine the focus Heyward had in that at-bat; having a manager choose to pitch to you over a career bench bat is the epitome of what a lack of respect looks like, and the Dodgers paid the price dearly.
There’s no doubt that the Dodgers’ front office didn’t see this train wreck coming, as the foundation was built before their eyes. That decision likely cost Los Angeles the game and a 2 – 0 stranglehold on the Braves as they return to the west coast, but now momentum could easily switch into Atlanta’s hands, with Julio Teheran taking on Hyun-Jin Ryu.
All in all, the seventh inning of that game was one of the great examples of managerial incompetence, from both sides. There is a theory out there that Gonzalez predicted Mattingly’s response, and that what happened during the bottom half on the inning was actually pure genius from the Braves’ dugout, but I’ve been watching Gonzalez work for too long to believe he thinks multiple steps ahead.