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Fredi Gonzalez has been brushing up on analytics

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On Tuesday, Craig noted that the Tigers plan to interview two-time manager Fredi Gonzalez for the club’s current managerial opening after letting Brad Ausmus go. Other teams have openings as well, including the Phillies and Mets.

In an effort to make himself more appealing as a managerial candidate, Gonzalez has been brushing up on analytics, Tim Healey of the Sun Sentinel reports. In 2015, Gonzalez started reading Sports Analytics and Data Science: Winning the Game with Methods and Models by Thomas W. Miller. He later called Miller and asked to audit the class, but Miller told him the skipper didn’t need to. Gonzalez also held what turned into an informal book club with members of the Marlins including senior director of analytics Jason Pare and administrative coach Ed Lucas.

Gonzalez said, “I want to be able to go into an interview and be able to talk [analytics]. Not that I couldn’t before. But now I go OK, if they drop it on me, I know what that means.”

He also credited Marlins manager Don Mattingly for helping him learn how to be a better communicator. Gonzalez served as the Marlins’ third base coach this past season. Gonzalez said, “You learn how people prepare. You ask questions. Some things that were important to you two, three years ago, now you sit back and watch somebody else do it and go, ‘Well, maybe this is how I should do stuff.’”

Gonzalez, 53, managed the Marlins from 2007 through the middle of 2010, accruing an aggreagate 276-279 record. He managed the Braves from 2011 through the first month and a half of the 2016 season, amassing a 434-413 record.

The Astros gave the Yankees an opening. Keuchel and Verlander will try to close the door.

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If Game 4 of the ALCS had been even remotely conventional, it’d stand at 3-1 in favor of Houston right now. The Yankees’ starter pitched well but got no run support. A mighty Astros team with an ordinarily good closer in Ken Giles had a 4-0 lead in the late innings. As the Yankees set out to mount a comeback, a base runner fell down in between first and second and should’ve been dead to rights. This is playoff baseball, however, so stuff, as they say, happens. The runner was safe, the closer struggled, the Yankees rallied and now we’re tied 2-2.

But are we even at 2-2?

On paper, no, because the Astros now will send Dallas Keuchel and Justin Verlander out in Games 5 and 6, and that gives them a clear advantage. Keuchel dominated the Yankees in Game 1, tossing seven scoreless innings and striking out ten batters. Verlander struck out 13 batters in a 124-pitch complete game in which he allowed only a single run. Beyond the mere facts of the box scores, however, the Yankees have looked profoundly overmatched by both of the Astros’ aces, in this postseason and on other occasions on which they’ve faced off against them. Most notably in the 2015 wild-card game at Yankee Stadium when Keuchel pitched six scoreless innings in the 3-0 victory.

But remember: stuff happens.

Stuff like Aaron Judge‘s and Gary Sanchez‘s bats waking up. The two most important sluggers in the Bombers lineup combined to go 3-for-6 with two doubles, a homer, a walk and five RBI in last night’s victory. Each of them had been silent for the first three games of the series but if they’re heating up, the Yankees will be a lot harder to pitch to.

Stuff like Masahiro Tanaka showing that he can tame the Astros’ lineup. Which he did pretty well in Game 1, giving up only two runs on four hits in six innings. He was overshadowed by Keuchel in that game, but it was a good performance against a strong lineup in a hostile environment. Tanaka pitches much better at Yankee Stadium than he does on the road, so don’t for a second think that the Astros bats will have an easy time of it today.

Stuff like the Yankees bullpen still being the Yankees bullpen. Yes, the Astros got to David Robertson yesterday, but it’s still a strong, strong group that gives the Yankees a clear advantage if the game is close late or if they hold a lead.

All of which is to say that we have ourselves a series, friends. While, 48 hours ago, it seemed like we were on our way to an Astros coronation, the Yankees have shown up in a major way in Games 3 and 4. If you’re an Astros fan you should feel pretty confident with Keuchel and Verlander heading into action over the next two games, but we have learned that absolutely nothing is guaranteed in the postseason.