This is why the Rangers need a manager with experience. Someone who doesn’t just manage by the analytics and the preset plan.
The Mets were fighting for their playoff lives yesterday. They had lost Game 1 of the best-of-three series. They started their best pitcher, Jacob deGrom. After six innings, they had a slim 3-2 lead. They absolutely had to maintain that lead.
But deGrom was recently off the injured list and hadn’t been pushed too much. No need to risk it here. Not risk his arm as much as risk him lapsing into being hittable.
But instead of doing what the by-the-book, do-what-the-analytics-nerds-say manager, Buck Showalter didn’t hold back for some theoretical save situation in the ninth inning in order to bring in his best relief pitcher. The game was on the line in the seventh. There were no guarantees about the ninth.
So, he brought in all-world closer Edwin Diaz. And Diaz did what he does. He shut down the top of the Padres lineup. Then the Mets rallied behind him to score four runs in the bottom of the seventh to take a commanding 7-2 lead. They needed to win the game in the seventh. They brought in their best relief pitcher in the seventh. They didn’t wait until the mythical “save situation” in the ninth.
Cleveland’s manager Terry Francona does the same thing regularly in big games. He doesn’t wait for a situation that may or may not unfold innings from now, to protect a lead that may not be there by then. He brings his shut down guy in when the situation calls for it.
That’s what experience means from a manager. It’s knowing how to win games that count.
Now that Jon Daniels, who never wanted a manager who would overshadow him, is gone, maybe the Rangers will hire a manager who knows his way around a game situation.
Terry Francona’s Guardians are going to the next round of the playoffs. Buck Showalter’s Mets are still alive for tonight’s elimination game. Scott Servais’s Mariners are moving onto the next Round. The Cardinals fired their manager last year because he had the audacity to disagree with their general manager and they replaced him with a guy who had never managed a game in his life. They are going home.
The Rangers? They were nowhere to be found in the first place.