‘I was booing myself’: Why Diamondbacks’ Lovullo removed red-hot Pfaadt vs. Phillies
Oct 20, 2023, 9:19 AM | Updated: 11:45 am
When managing the locker room, Arizona Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo leads with emotion. But in the middle of games, he leads with his plan and preparation, which in Game 3 of the NLCS Thursday led to him pulling pitcher Brandon Pfaadt 5.2 innings into his start despite nine strikeouts and just 70 pitches thrown.
It led to boos at the D-backs’ home ballpark. But it worked out just fine.
Crowd boos the decision to pull Brandon Pfaadt before giving him a standing ovation. pic.twitter.com/5G9mnKraWh
— Kellan Olson (@KellanOlson) October 19, 2023
The bullpen rewarded that trust, and Arizona won 2-1 at Chase Field on a Ketel Marte walkoff to reel in the Phillies, who lead the series 2-1.
Lovullo noticed the ire directed at him in the moment.
“I was booing myself as I walked out onto the mound, I didn’t need to be in the stands,” he told reporters after the win.
“I’m sure I was the most unpopular guy in the city of Phoenix, in the downtown area, and maybe the entire state of Arizona. I want everybody to know that is trying to think along with me … I have a strategy for everything that’s done. Everything that’s done is well talked about. It’s not just analytics. I know how quickly playoff baseball can change. I felt like Brandon kept the game under control and it was time to turn it over. Yes, I am prepared to be booed, I am prepared to get second-guessed.”
Pfaadt was dealing against the Phillies.
Philadelphia struck out swinging in seven of his strikeouts, and Pfaadt’s sweeper pitch got five of the total strikeouts. He also got three Phillies with a fastball that he peppered above their bats.
But Lovullo stuck with his plan, replacing Pfaadt with lefty reliever Andrew Saalfrank exactly two times through the Phillies’ order.
The manager said he planned on giving Pfaadt 18 hitters, plus or minus four.
The bullpen, Lovullo added, needed to get some work in to keep those players engaged as well.
“We’re having conversations about it all day yesterday, all morning today, during the game — we’re loving what we see,” Lovullo said of his thinking. “We just felt like once we got to a certain point in the game, he could hand it off to a bullpen that was able to match up and able to give us what I feel was a really good advantage against some really good hitters.
“The conversations (mid-game) are very typical,” Lovullo added. “Am I an idiot if I take him out of the game with nine strikeouts at 5 and 2/3s (innings)? … I know it’s a very unpopular decision. But we have great information … a plan and a road map. When there’s limited emotion and limited stimulus, what’s the best decision to move this thing forward and control a very, very potent offense?”