Tough time to be an MLB manager and Houston forces Game 7

Dusty Baker will not return as the Washington Nationals’ manager. We found that out yesterday. We already knew John Farrell is not coming back as Boston’s manager. Are these two being made the fall guys for player postseason failures? You could certainly make a case for that.

Baker’s teams won back-to-back division titles, winning 95 games in 2016 and 97 this season. But they lost back-to-back National League Division Series in fifth games. Farrell’s teams won back-to-back division titles, winning 93 each time. But they went 1-6 in the postseason in the American League Division Series over the last two years. Farrell’s 2013 team won the World Series.

Baseballs generic.jpgSo Baker and Farrell combined to win four division titles but go 0-for-4 in playoff series over the last two years. In both cases, some of their best hitters didn’t hit much. In the Nats’ case, maybe they were hurt by playing in such a poor division this year. Either way, you can’t fire 25 players but you can fire one manager.

The Nationals have won the second-most games in the majors since the 2012 season and won four division titles in that six-season span, but have lost four playoff series with three different managers. Now another man will get another shot to get them over the hump and try to end the long run of postseason failures.

Most MLB wins since 2012:
559 - Dodgers
555 - Nationals
544 - Cardinals
526 - Yankees
522 - Indians
519 - Orioles

Maybe the Nationals are not wrong to dismiss Baker, but it sure has to be tough to lose a managing gig after all those wins and two first-place finishes. But Nats management obviously has a deeper perspective than any of us. But we also know that general manager Mike Rizzo openly spoke of Baker returning next season, even as everyone knew his contract expired at the end of this one.

Is it tougher now to manage than ever before?

It could be. More scrutiny than ever before, more social media, more blogs, stories, columns, radio talk shows, etc. Everyone knows they would have made a different move that would have worked. Constant second guessing. Managers have to deal with some big egos in the clubhouses and try to keep everybody happy. Managers almost never publicly criticize their players, but what happens behind the scenes. When is the right time to do that. What do they need to do to not lose the clubhouse.

The next managers in Boston and Washington will know this: regular season success is fine and expected, but that is not nearly enough.

Game 7 tonight: The Houston Astros beat the New York Yankees 7-1 last night to tie the ALCS at three wins each. Game 7 is tonight, with Houston’s Charlie Morton (0-1, 10.13 ERA in the playoffs) facing New York’s CC Sabathia (1-0, 2.30 ERA in the playoffs).

Right-hander Justin Verlander, acquired by Houston in an Aug. 31 trade, pitched seven scoreless innings with eight strikeouts Friday night. In four postseason starts for his new team, he is 4-0 with a 1.46 ERA. In five career postseason elimination games, he is 4-1 with a 1.21 ERA and has now thrown 24 straight scoreless innings. Pretty amazing stuff.

Houston allowed 19 runs in losing three straight games at Yankee Stadium. But they have given up just three runs in three home wins in this series and they host tonight’s decisive game to see which team will face the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series.

In the playoffs, Houston is 5-0 at home while New York is 1-5 on the road.

Who you got in Game 7?

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