A Winning Game 1 in Atlanta: Rob Thomson’s Intriguing Managerial Psychology Shines – NBC Sports Philadelphia

ATLANTA — Phillies Win NLDS Series Opener in Atlanta

In an interesting managerial decision before the game, Rob Thomson debated whether to inform Ranger Suarez that he wouldn’t have a long start. With the Braves having six right-handed hitters who excelled against lefties, the Phillies wanted to utilize their right-handed relievers.

Suarez started strong and faced just nine batters over three scoreless innings. He showcased his changeup and curveball, effectively working both corners.

However, after a two-out single and a fielder’s choice put runners on base, Thomson decided to remove Suarez. Although disappointed, Thomson understood Suarez’s competitive nature.

“We considered telling him before the game, but we decided not to. I explained it to him afterward, and he understood,” Thomson said. “All moves are scrutinized this time of year, but you have to make the best decision.”

Throughout the 2022 postseason, Thomson managed aggressively, often relying on high-leverage relievers in the middle of games. However, his decision to pull Zack Wheeler backfired in last year’s World Series.

In Game 1 against the Braves, the plan was to use Suarez until a pivotal right-handed lineup spot emerged. When the opportunity arose, Thomson called on Jeff Hoffman, their preferred righty reliever for that situation.

Both teams have bullpen options, but the Phillies feel confident with their eight relievers: Craig Kimbrel, Jose Alvarado, Hoffman, Seranthony Dominguez, Gregory Soto, Matt Strahm, Orion Kerkering, and Cristopher Sanchez. They used six of them in Game 1.

The Braves, meanwhile, faced their first shutout in 125 games. The Phillies delivered a stellar pitching performance against Atlanta’s potent offense.

“Our pitching staff was incredible tonight,” said catcher J.T. Realmuto. “They didn’t let us down. They threw the ball really well.”

The Phillies have a chance to win the series at home, with Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola set to pitch. Regardless, they know they can’t let up against a tough Braves team.

“It’s always important to win Game 1, but I think Game 2 is pretty important too. It’s kind of a swing game,” Thomson said. “We’ve got to stay nose to the grindstone.”


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