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Ron Gardenhire reportedly one of three final candidates for the Red Sox job

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The Boston Red Sox fired John Farrell only yesterday, but at least one reporter says that they’re moving pretty fast as far as finding his replacement goes. The reporter is Charley Walters of the St. Paul Pioneer Press, and he says that former Twins manager Ron Gardenhire is in the “final three” for the Red Sox managerial opening.

It’s interesting to ponder how a Minnesota-based reporter would know that, but that’s between him and his source.

Walters doesn’t say who the other two candidates are, but Alex Cora, Brad Ausmus, Gary DiSarcina, Chili Davis, Brian Butterfield, and Jason Varitek have all been mentioned by those speculating about the opening. Some of that speculation is informed — Dave Dombrowski hired Ausmus in Detroit and likes him; Cora has been mentioned as a top candidate for any number of positions, etc. — and some of it may just be wish casting.

Gardenhire doesn’t seem to be a wish casting candidate. After a period in which recently-retired, putatively player-friendly managers with no previous experience were the trend, the pendulum seems to be swinging back toward hiring experienced managers. Gardenhire is certainly that, having served as the manager of the Twins for 13 years before his firing in September 2014. What’s more, he spent the 2017 season as the bench coach of the Diamondbacks where he reportedly worked well with former Red Sox coach Torey Lovullo and helped turn around a Dbacks club that lost 93 games last year.

The Red Sox job is a win-now prospect, and there is a lot of talent there. It’d certainly be a good opportunity for whoever wants it.

In the playoffs, the Yankees’ weakness has become their strength

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Two weeks ago, when the playoffs began, the idea of “bullpenning” once again surfaced, this time with the Yankees as a focus. Because their starting pitching was believed to be a weakness — they had no obvious ace like a Dallas Keuchel or Corey Kluber — and their bullpen was a major strength, the idea of chaining relievers together starting from the first inning gained traction. The likes of Luis Severino, who struggled mightily in the AL Wild Card game, or Masahiro Tanaka (4.79 regular season ERA) couldn’t be relied upon in the postseason, the thought went.

That idea is no longer necessary for the Yankees because the starting rotation has become the club’s greatest strength. Tanaka fired seven shutout innings to help push the Yankees ahead of the Astros in the ALCS, three games to two. They are now one win away from reaching the World Series for the first time since 2009.

It hasn’t just been Tanaka. Since Game 3 of the ALDS, Yankees pitchers have made eight starts spanning 46 1/3 innings. They have allowed 10 runs (nine earned) on 25 hits and 12 walks with 45 strikeouts. That’s a 1.75 ERA with an 8.74 K/9 and 2.33 BB/9. In five of those eight starts, the starter went at least six innings, which has helped preserve the freshness and longevity of the bullpen.

Here’s the full list of performances for Yankee starters this postseason:

Game Starter IP H R ER BB SO HR
AL WC Luis Severino 1/3 4 3 3 1 0 2
ALDS 1 Sonny Gray 3 1/3 3 3 3 4 2 1
ALDS 2 CC Sabathia 5 1/3 3 4 2 3 5 0
ALDS 3 Masahiro Tanaka 7 3 0 0 1 7 0
ALDS 4 Luis Severino 7 4 3 3 1 9 2
ALDS 5 CC Sabathia 4 1/3 5 2 2 0 9 0
ALCS 1 Masahiro Tanaka 6 4 2 2 1 3 0
ALCS 2 Luis Severino 4 2 1 1 2 0 1
ALCS 3 CC Sabathia 6 3 0 0 4 5 0
ALCS 4 Sonny Gray 5 1 2 1 2 4 0
ALCS 5 Masahiro Tanaka 7 3 0 0 1 8 0
TOTAL 55 1/3 35 20 17 20 52 6

In particular, if you hone in on the ALCS starts specifically, Yankee starters have pitched 28 innings, allowing five runs (four earned) on 13 hits and 10 walks with 20 strikeouts. That’s a 1.61 ERA.

While the Yankees’ biggest weakness has become a strength, the Astros’ biggest weakness — the bullpen — has become an even bigger weakness. This is why the Yankees, who won 10 fewer games than the Astros during the regular season, are one win away from reaching the World Series and the Astros are not.