UPDATE: Larry Bowa joins the Phillies coaching staff

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UPDATE: It’s official: Larry Bowa and Pete Mackanin have joined Phillies staff as bench coach and 3rd base coach. Wally Joyner is out.

9:06 AMWe first talked about this in September, but now it looks like it’s gonna happen. Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com reports that Larry Bowa is nearing an agreement to become the Phillies’ new bench coach.

Salisbury notes that Bowa is a friend and confidant of manager Ryne Sandberg’s, going back to their time on the Cubs in the early 80s when the former mentored the future Hall of Famer. Now, with Charlie Manuel out and his coaching staff being swept out after him, Sandberg understandably wants his own folks in place.

On the one hand I get it. Bowa, with managerial experience and the confidence of the manager, is sort of the prototypical bench coach in a certain way. Most of us didn’t even really think about the existence of bench coaches until we saw Don Zimmer at Joe Torre’s elbow for all of those years in the 90s, and it’s the same general deal there: ex-manager who can be a second set of eyes and someone who the skipper can bounce things off of. And his senior status is such that there isn’t some simmering job envy between them which could be weird.

On the other hand, Bowa has always been kind of a hothead who was known for berating players back when he managed. That’s not a trait you want in your bench coach. If anything, you’d want your bench coach who can be a guy that can bring player concerns to the manager and/or help communicate the manager’s diktats to the players if needed. Bowa is not exactly the great communicator.

Maybe his time away from the dugout has mellowed him. Maybe he’ll be able to adapt to the gig and not approach it the same way he did when he ran the Phillies ten years ago. But it will be interesting to watch regardless.

A.J. Hinch: “We’ll use every pitcher in Game 7 if we have to”

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It’s not entirely clear why the Astros threw Ken Giles into the ninth inning of Game 6 of the ALCS. With a six-run advantage and the bottom half of the Yankees’ lineup due up, pushing the series to its seven-game capacity looked like a sure bet. Giles may be one of Houston’s better bullpen arms, but he’s not their only option, and it would have made more sense to keep him fresh for a do-or-die Game 7 on Saturday night.

Of course, there’s no such thing as a sure bet when it comes to postseason baseball. That’s more or less what Astros’ manager A.J. Hinch had to say after the game, telling reporters that he had envisioned a quick three outs from his closer as they tried to pull back from the brink of elimination. “We didn’t have the luxury of limping into that inning,” Hinch said. “We’ve seen how these guys can explode in these innings.”

It’s not difficult to recall the Yankees’ explosive drive in the eighth inning of Game 4, when they exploited the holes in Houston’s ‘pen and evened the series with Gary Sanchez‘s go-ahead double off of Giles. Back home in Minute Maid Park, however, there was a slightly different feel to the eighth and ninth innings of Game 6. Jose Altuve led off the eighth with a solo home run, followed by Alex Bregman‘s two-run double and Evan Gattis‘ sac fly. In the ninth, Giles labored through a 23-pitch outing to lock down the win, handing out a base hit and a seven-pitch walk before eventually whiffing Chase Headley on three straight pitches for the last out.

So, while Hinch’s decision to lean on Giles in Game 6 may have felt wasteful, his concerns were not entirely unfounded. He’s prepared to roll with the same strategy during Saturday’s series finale, too, leaving nothing on the table as the Astros battle for their first World Series showdown since 2005. According to Dallas Keuchel, that means all hands on deck — except for Justin Verlander, whose four wins, 24 strikeouts and 1.46 postseason ERA have gotten the Astros as far as he could possibly be expected to take them. “No pitcher is going to be in the dugout,” said Keuchel. “They’re all going to be in the bullpen, myself included. Any way we can help out, we’re trying to get to the World Series, the same way the Yankees are, and that’s a nice feeling to have.”

Does that mean Giles will be available for a Game 7 appearance? Stranger things have happened. Joe Sheehan notes that the right-hander has pitched in back-to-back days 13 times this year, though he’s never thrown as many as 23 pitches on Day 1. Granted, he likely doesn’t have enough left in the tank for another 20+ pitch run on Saturday, but with the World Series on the line, any help he can offer will be invaluable.