At the end of September, the Phillies said goodbye to longtime pitching coach Rich Dubee. Dubee had been with the club for nine seasons. In November, the Phillies announced they had hired Bob McClure to be their new pitching coach. McClure had previously coached for the Rockies, Royals, and Red Sox.
Also during the off-season, the Phillies hired an analytics “extern”, who eventually became a full-time employee — the organization’s first foray into analytics. The Phillies have been the laughingstock of the league, not just for their hesitance to embrace 21st-century ideas, but for their outright dismissal of them. In January last year, in defense of his signing of Delmon Young, GM Ruben Amaro famously said that he isn’t concerned with a player’s [lack of] walks, and that he cares about his overall production.
McClure said recently, “There’s a lot of good old-school baseball people here and that intrigued me.” McClure added that he thinks the use of baseball data can be “overdone”. Via Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly:
McClure’s keep-it-simple style won’t include bombarding his pitchers with analytical data. He believes too much of that can get in the way of executing the pitch.
“So many organizations are getting into the computer and data and number crunching,” he said. “There’s a lot of good old-school baseball people here and that intrigued me.
“I use it. I think there’s a place for old school with the new stuff and a place for new stuff with the old school. I think a mixture is good. But for me, I think it can be overdone.”
Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.
The Yankees and Astros are set for Game 7 of the American League Championship Series on Saturday, and neither team will hold back as they seek a World Series berth. The Astros are prepared to back starter Charlie Morton with any able-bodied pitcher in their ranks — including Justin Verlander, though A.J. Hinch said it would be a “dream scenario” to get anything more from his ace — while the Yankees are prepared to utilize all but a few of their arms. One pitcher you won’t see? Right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, who last took the hill for the Yankees during their Game 5 shutout on Wednesday.
Tanaka expended 103 pitches over seven scoreless innings in his last start, fending off the Astros with three hits, a walk and eight strikeouts. He hasn’t pitched on fewer than three days of rest all year, and even with a do-or-die scenario facing the Yankees on Saturday night, manager Joe Girardi doesn’t want to compromise his starter’s ability to stay rested and ready for the World Series.
Girardi will also play it safe with fellow right-hander Sonny Gray, who dominated in a five-inning performance in Game 4. All other pitchers should be available and ready to go, though the club is hoping for a lengthy outing from veteran starter CC Sabathia. Sabathia is no stranger to the postseason: over eight separate playoff runs, he touts one championship title and a collective 4.24 ERA in 123 innings. He held the Astros scoreless in his Game 3 start, blanking them over six innings on three hits, four walks and five strikeouts for an eventual 8-1 win.
Even without Tanaka or Gray likely to take the mound for Game 7, the Yankees will enter the series finale with history on their side. Per MLB.com, they have a 4-3 road record in Game 7s and are 6-7 in all 13 Game 7 finales to date. The Astros, on the other hand, dropped their first and only Game 7 clincher back in 2004, when the Cardinals capped the NLCS with a 5-2 win in St. Louis. The teams are scheduled to face off for the first-ever Game 7 at Minute Maid Park on Saturday at 8:00 PM ET.