There are two aging managers still in the MLB playoffs, Tony La Russa the Cardinals skipper and Jim Leyland, of the Tigers. Both men have won championships, but its more than that, right now both are working with very banged up teams, teams that some would say are overmatched on paper to their opponent sand yet they are both very much alive.
First let’s start with Leyland, heading into Game 5 of the ALCS he stated that he had two pitchers he could use in the game. The first was Justin Verlander and the second was Phil Coke, was this 1970’s baseball, or is he setting up his bullpen just so. It’s definitely the latter, Verlander went 7.1, and Coke went 1.2. Now as the series heads back to Detroit, with his team down 3-2, he has just shown his team that a) he has faith in them, and b) he puts them in a position to succeed.
The Tigers have a banged up team and their lineup doesn’t seem to compare to Texas, the Tigers bullpen is deep but the Rangers seems deeper, yet they are hanging in there. Leyland is the answer, he has been deflecting everything in all of the interviews that he has to give and he continues to send the right message to his team.
La Russa has been engineering one of the greatest runs in major league baseball history. He made sure he setup Chris Carpenter to pitch in G5 against the Phillies, he played Nick Punto because he hit Roy Halladay well and he ended up making a key play in the field and went 1-4. Carpenter pitched a shutout and won. Fast forward to the Brewers series.
Again, the Cards would love to have their ace, Adam Wainwright, but he’s been out for the season and they’ve adjusted. The Cardinals manager keeps adjusting the lineup, setting up the bullpen, going as long as he can with the clearly less talented staff compared to Milwaukee and now they are tied 2-2 in the NLCS and the Cards have Jaime Garcia heading into G5 at home against Zack Greinke, who hasn’t been great on the road and he has Edwin Jackson for G6, and Carpenter for G7.
Carpenter showed he can’t pitch on short rest so it seems to me that the Cards are gearing up to try and win another G7, and it would be a home game.
I have been watching both of these series and the one thing I’ve taken out of it is; the underdog managers have been doing a fantastic job.
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