Alex Cora-- what do we have here? Perhaps the best manager in baseball.

Harry Hooper

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I don't expect to see Eovaldi (in relief) in either games to start the next series. He was pulled for analytical reasons beyond Cora. It's time we accept that pitchers are pulled or put in based on numbers that we don't see.

The game is always changing, but the last decade has been insane.
Cora on WEEI today said starters Eduardo, Nick, and Nate will be used in relief, but Chris Sale will not be "unless it's a perfect situation."

Around 11:40 of the interview here.
 

scottyno

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Well that's interesting.
Not really, Sale is the only guy slated to go twice and there are only 4 days between his 2 possible starts, so there's no time when he could logically ever be used in relief. Pivetta should be good for games 1 or 2, Erod for 4 or 5, and Eovaldi maybe for 1 and if they get to 5 he'll definitely be available.

Every year now we're seeing more and more starters used out of the pen in the playoffs. The Sox did it a ton in 2018, no reason to think they wouldn't continue to do it. They already did it in game 162 and Cora said he pulled Houck in game 161 so he could use him in the WC game.
 
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cantor44

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I’m generally pro-Cora, but last night’s game is a weird occasion to say “told you so” on that. We didn’t win the game because of brilliant tactics; we won because Eovaldi pitched well and three of our better hitters (X, Schwarber, Verdugo) came up big.

Now, if a pro-Bloom partisan wanted to take a victory lap on the Schwarber acquisition, I’d understand that.
Though Cora did make a couple of good decisions in the WC game:

1. He started Plawecki (many folks were hoping Plawecki would take more starts long ago, and in the case of Nate pitching at least, Cora has come around).
2. He lead off Schwarber and hit Devers 3rd and X down to fourth. This was maximizing his best bats, and taking advantage of L/R splits.
3. He played the best defensive team he could, with Hernandez in CF, Arroyo at 2B, and Dalbec at first, and Schwarb (and JD by default) off the field of play. That decision had a major impact in the relay that Hernandez started that threw out Judge. The decision to play the better defensive team is very significant, and I hope he sticks with this for the rest of the playoffs. If he's bold enough, he would consider a Verdugo/JD platoon (with the exception of playing in NL park if they make it to the WS).
4. His tendency (dare I say, addiction) to pull starters early IS appropriate in a do-or-die game. There is no room to give anyone any rope. I think his quick hook all season often hurt the team, but in this case, it made sense.
5. I was okay with PH Shaw (game thread wasn't all that happy), as he HAS been pretty clutch against RHP.

So, actually, Cora, in my laymen's assessment, had one of his best games of the year.

The analysis of the Schwarber acquisition can't only consider what he's doing now. Schwarber is a great hitter, yes. I hope he stays on the Red Sox and suspect he might (he seems to like it). But I hope he is the new DH. Meanwhile, the trade also dinged the team ... he couldn't join the Sox for 3 weeks, a period in which the team cratered, and once he did play he compromised the defense in ways that had a direct impact on a couple of loses.

The fact they made the playoffs (by ONE GAME), allows Schwarber's impact to now be really positive (particularly if Cora avoids the temptation of playing the "bad D" starting line up). But it wasn't without it's blemishes from July 30 to Oct. 3.
 
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Red(s)HawksFan

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Not really, Sale is the only guy slated to go twice and there are only 4 days between his 2 possible starts, so there's no time when he could logically ever be used in relief. Pivetta should be good for games 1 or 2, Erod for 4 or 5, and Eovaldi maybe for 1 and if they get to 5 he'll definitely be available.

Every year now we're seeing more and more starters used out of the pen in the playoffs. The Sox did it a ton in 2018, no reason to think they wouldn't continue to do it. They already did it in game 162 and Cora said he pulled Houck in game 161 so he could use him in the WC game.
The availability of starters for an inning in relief is based on their normal between start throwing schedule. Four days is "normal" rest during the season and typically two days after a start, they're throwing a bullpen of 20-25 pitches. Using them in relief is simply moving that bullpen session to the field and doing it during a game instead. Sale could do that as easily as any of the rest even with the possibility of starting twice in the series. I think they're just protecting him more than the others because he's so recently returned from TJS more so than who's slated to start when.
 

Sin Duda

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The availability of starters for an inning in relief is based on their normal between start throwing schedule. Four days is "normal" rest during the season and typically two days after a start, they're throwing a bullpen of 20-25 pitches. Using them in relief is simply moving that bullpen session to the field and doing it during a game instead. Sale could do that as easily as any of the rest even with the possibility of starting twice in the series. I think they're just protecting him more than the others because he's so recently returned from TJS more so than who's slated to start when.
And pitching in a game requires both warm-up and in-game pitches, so that would likely become 40-50 tosses.
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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And pitching in a game requires both warm-up and in-game pitches, so that would likely become 40-50 tosses.
So does throwing a bullpen session. About the only difference between a bullpen session between starts and throwing an inning in a live game is the adrenaline/energy spike. So 10-15 in a live game is roughly the same as 20-25 pitches in a bullpen.
 

VORP Speed

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Not really, Sale is the only guy slated to go twice and there are only 4 days between his 2 possible starts, so there's no time when he could logically ever be used in relief. Pivetta should be good for games 1 or 2, Erod for 4 or 5, and Eovaldi maybe for 1 and if they get to 5 he'll definitely be available.

Every year now we're seeing more and more starters used out of the pen in the playoffs. The Sox did it a ton in 2018, no reason to think they wouldn't continue to do it. They already did it in game 162 and Cora said he pulled Houck in game 161 so he could use him in the WC game.
The Rays do this, too, so Bloom does not bring a different philosophy here.
 

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Somone else said it, but Cora pulling Houck during his "perfect game" was also a brilliant move. 90 pitches last week would have has some impact last night.
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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He gave up a homer prior to the move…?
Pretty sure he's referring to last Saturday's start. The decision some tried to insert into the worst pitching moves ever thread. Turned out pulling him early then allowed him to pitch a big inning on Tuesday and five last night.
 

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Pretty sure he's referring to last Saturday's start. The decision some tried to insert into the worst pitching moves ever thread. Turned out pulling him early then allowed him to pitch a big inning on Tuesday and five last night.
Oh got it my bad. Thanks for the clarification
 

Hank Scorpio

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The guy on WEEI is heaping praise on Cora for "baiting" Cash into emptying his bench in the 7th, and getting all of the LHH out of the game for Robles/Whitlock/Pivetta. Interesting take.
 

Heating up in the bullpen

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The guy on WEEI is heaping praise on Cora for "baiting" Cash into emptying his bench in the 7th, and getting all of the LHH out of the game for Robles/Whitlock/Pivetta. Interesting take.
It's pretty clear that the way to beat the Rays is to get a lead then switch to an opposite-handed pitcher to get them to switch out their platoon bats. Then you go back to original-handed pitchers to take the platoon advantage away from them. All you need to do is score a bunch of runs, execute your pitches, and get some BABIP luck (or ground-rule double luck) and you've got a W.
With these Sox pitchers, I like the righties to start better than the lefties (SSS, but the lefties shit the bed twice and the righties have mostly been nails).
 

cantor44

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I think Cora has been very good so far this post season, after a flawed regular season. I suppose we are seeing "playoff Cora ..." I was a bit skeptical about taking Eovaldi out tonight, but could begrudgingly understand it. The only unambiguous mistake I thought Cora made was keeping Robles in past three hitters - maybe the only bad decision he's made over these 4 games so far. Cora is resourceful and creative in the playoffs.
 

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I've been critical of Cora during the season as have most of us, but just as he did in the '18 playoff season he seems to be pushing a lot of the right buttons. Credit also to guys who have risen to the occasion and come through in big moments.
 
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BaseballJones

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The thing is... his “pull the starter early” strategy works far better in the postseason than it does in the regular season. Because there are more days off in between games which allows his bullpen guys to get some rest. In the 162 game regular season it’s just such a grind. Plus he uses his starters in relief in the playoffs, effectively giving him extra arms to use.
 

joe dokes

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I think Cora has been very good so far this post season, after a flawed regular season. I suppose we are seeing "playoff Cora ..." I was a bit skeptical about taking Eovaldi out tonight, but could begrudgingly understand it. The only unambiguous mistake I thought Cora made was keeping Robles in past three hitters - maybe the only bad decision he's made over these 4 games so far. Cora is resourceful and creative in the playoffs.
I should let it go, but I wont. Cora's regular season was "flawed" the same way Trea Turner's was. He's the flawed hitter who made outs in something like 67% of his atbats. But "oh," you say, "Turner led the league in hitting, surely you're not suggesting Cora's the best manager?" OK. Maybe he's as flawed as Juan Soto, who failed in nearly 69% of his at bats. Or maybe he's as flawed as Eugenio Suarez, who made outs in around 80% of his.
Debating particular moves is what baseball is all about. But painting some sort of larger narratives is ridiculous absent some indication of where he fits in relative to his peers.
Or else, there's someone on Sons of Coco Laboy harping on Juan Soto's flawed, filled-with-outs, season.
 

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I was all for "step on the throat" in Game 2 and having Whitlock pitch the 9th despite the big lead instead of courting tragedy with Barnes.

I was really wrong. No Whitlock makes more of a possibility for providing an inning tonight.
 

BaseballJones

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I would be stunned if Whitlock isn’t available tonight. Not sure he will pitch - obviously all depends on the game situation - but I can’t believe he wouldn’t be available.

Three from EdRo.
Two from Houck.
One from Perez.
One from Robles.
One from Taylor.
One from Whitlock.

On to the ALCS.
 

cantor44

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I should let it go, but I wont. Cora's regular season was "flawed" the same way Trea Turner's was. He's the flawed hitter who made outs in something like 67% of his atbats. But "oh," you say, "Turner led the league in hitting, surely you're not suggesting Cora's the best manager?" OK. Maybe he's as flawed as Juan Soto, who failed in nearly 69% of his at bats. Or maybe he's as flawed as Eugenio Suarez, who made outs in around 80% of his.
Debating particular moves is what baseball is all about. But painting some sort of larger narratives is ridiculous absent some indication of where he fits in relative to his peers.
Or else, there's someone on Sons of Coco Laboy harping on Juan Soto's flawed, filled-with-outs, season.
I come in peace brother (or sister).

Look. There were a few chronic problems this year (and then lots of little ones of course). Cora ideologically pulled starters early. There are some stats to back this approach up, but many times his decisions lacked contextual consideration. For example: Cora viewed a 7-inning double header game as an opportunity to pitch his staters even FEWER innings a start, and use his bullpen the same as a nine-inning game, rather than the opposite (and saving bullpen arms should have been a key consideration when you play 3 games in a little more than 24 hours). This lead to a disastrous cluster of games not once, but twice at critical junctures in the season. Ironically, pulling starters early IS a necessary strategy in the post-season, so his inclination this way is a two-edged sword; it works well now especially since he can use starters on their "throw day" to come in as relievers, taking some burden off of the usual relievers.

EDIT: Cora preached an aggressive batting approach, which led to the team leading baseball in swinging at pitches outside the zone. It took Schwarber's presence to teach the team the virtues of patience.

The team played very sloppy baseball on the base paths and in the field all season, making one unforced mental mistake after the next. We could say this is on the players, but my guess is even Cora himself would say the buck stops with him there. After a while, if it keeps happening, it means either coaching isn't happening or it isn't getting through.

Though let me say it feels to me that there is an angry subtext to these exchanges. Does my criticism of Cora make you angry? I sense you sense some stupid ideological position on my part. I have no ideology. I like Cora. I think he fucked up a chunk of the season. I criticize him when I think he deserves it. I praise him when I think he deserves it. Compared to other managers, he's likely pretty good, yeah. Then again, the game is changing and smarter guys are becoming managers (used to be guys like Jimy Williams and Grady Little were the norm).

The folks who are so sensitive to Bloom or Cora being criticized, to me, feel ideological. Any criticism is AN AFFRONT. I suppose this is the fan equivalent of being authoritarian. The bosses just cannot be criticized. Yeah, I'm just voicing what I'm observing: willing to criticize, willing to praise, willing to change my mind, willing to see contradiction, and willing to admit a mistake. No team, no player, no executive, no manager is sacrosanct.
 
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Harry Hooper

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It's pretty clear that the way to beat the Rays is to get a lead then switch to an opposite-handed pitcher to get them to switch out their platoon bats. Then you go back to original-handed pitchers to take the platoon advantage away from them. All you need to do is score a bunch of runs, execute your pitches, and get some BABIP luck (or ground-rule double luck) and you've got a W.
With these Sox pitchers, I like the righties to start better than the lefties (SSS, but the lefties shit the bed twice and the righties have mostly been nails).

Assuming Houck, Robles, and Whitlock can pitch an inning today, maybe something along the lines of this:

Houck gets 3 outs.
Rodriguez gets 7 or 8 outs.
Ottavino {gulp} gets 4 or 5 outs.
Taylor gets 3 outs.
Robles gets 3 outs.
Brasier gets 3 outs.
Whitlock gets 3 outs.

If Rodriguez is dealing, you can reduce/eliminate the Ottavino appearance.
 

Ferm Sheller

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I would be stunned if Whitlock isn’t available tonight. Not sure he will pitch - obviously all depends on the game situation - but I can’t believe he wouldn’t be available.

Three from EdRo.
Two from Houck.
One from Perez.
One from Robles.
One from Taylor.
One from Whitlock.

On to the ALCS.
Like to see them avoid Houck if at all possible, and I'd be surprised if all of the guys you mention get in but Tilt doesn't. Not sure that Robles is a good option if he hasn't recovered from last night's illness.
 

BaseballJones

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Like to see them avoid Houck if at all possible, and I'd be surprised if all of the guys you mention get in but Tilt doesn't. Not sure that Robles is a good option if he hasn't recovered from last night's illness.
I actually forgot about Braiser! Embarrassing.
 

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Whether he is a genius, or lucky, I don't care. 10-4 in the postseason is pretty damn good, especially when you consider the teams that is against. Again, some of that was the loaded 2018 team, but the man just seems to get the best out of his guys in the postseason.
 

bosockboy

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Whether he is a genius, or lucky, I don't care. 10-4 in the postseason is pretty damn good, especially when you consider the teams that is against. Again, some of that was the loaded 2018 team, but the man just seems to get the best out of his guys in the postseason.
14-4 actually.
 

joe dokes

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After a while, if it keeps happening, it means either coaching isn't happening or it isn't getting through.
Right. There's no other possibilities.
 
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joe dokes

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Like to see them avoid Houck if at all possible, and I'd be surprised if all of the guys you mention get in but Tilt doesn't. Not sure that
The only way I see Houck getting in today is for a very short and very necessary (like ERod doesn;t last the 1st, and they've burned everyone else), 20-pitch outing to preserve an enormous lead. Im not sure I can think of another realistic scenario where there isn;t great effort to keep him for a Game 5.
 

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The one real mistake he made was pulling Brasier after 11 pitches with 2 out and nobody on to go to Davis. It worked out, but Davis couldn't throw strikes, which is his nature. We were perilously close to Franco vs Davis with 2 on.
 

jtn46

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The one real mistake he made was pulling Brasier after 11 pitches with 2 out and nobody on to go to Davis. It worked out, but Davis couldn't throw strikes, which is his nature. We were perilously close to Franco vs Davis with 2 on.
Davis was clearly pitching around Luplow.

The point of the move was to get Cash to burn Wendle, and Davis had Lowe next. The Sox late in close games are in a good spot if Cash has emptied his bench and made his lineup right-handed as we only really have 1 good lefty reliever in Taylor. If the Rays have a fatal flaw as a playoff team, I think it’s this. In the regular season managers want length out of their starters so the Rays platooning 4 guys can really help them score runs, but in the playoffs where an opposing manager has a quick hook they are always in spots in the middle of games where Cash has to either suffer the short-term platoon disadvantage or empty his bench and leave his lineup vulnerable in later innings.

The way things went, Whitlock and Pivetta faced Luplow twice and he struck out both times. It could actually be argued that Cash shouldn’t have taken the bait with 2 outs, he could have had Wendle vs 2 RHP, knowing the only lefties the Sox had left were Perez and 2 starters Cora was unlikely to burn, but he was down 2 runs at the time so had to value outs.
 

scottyno

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I don't think it's a coincidence that we're now on year 2 of going into the playoffs thinking the bullpen was a weakness and Cora finding outs all over the place.
 

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Smiling Joe Hesketh

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He's managing completely differently than he did in the regular season (and obviously you'd expect that). What puzzles me is that he pretty much did nothing for 3 months before the playoffs began.

I fully understand you can't run your players into the ground as if every game of the 162 was game 7. But there should be some place on that spectrum where he can be more aggressive in chasing wins.