It sure seemed like a change in plans when it was revealed that the Red Sox were talking to Bobby Valentine yesterday. But as Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald reports, this is not a new development:
Bobby Valentine has been a candidate for the Red Sox manager job from the early stages of the team’s search process, a club source said yesterday. Valentine was one of the first people interviewed by general manager Ben Cherington
This is less important from the perspective of Bobby Valentine’s status, I think, than it is from a team philosophy perspective. Because if it had been the case that Ben Cherington had been interviewing guys like Dale Sveum and Pete Mackanin, and then ownership swooped in and injected Bobby V. into the discussion, it would have told a story of a new GM being undermined and organizational incoherence. But if Valentine was always in the running and if Cherington has been part of that process all along, well, then it’s not a big deal.
I will ask one question, though: If Bobby Valentine has been a candidate for several weeks, is anyone surprised that word of it hadn’t gotten out before yesterday? He’s so recognizable. And last year, when he was being connected to several teams, we heard about it almost immediately, often from people close to Valentine, as opposed to the team.
I have no reason to doubt the report that the Sox have been on Valentine for a while, but I am kinda surprised that no one leaked word of it before now.
The book heading into the series was that the Dodgers’ starters needed to come up big for them due to questions in the bullpen and that the Brewers’ bullpen was going to dominate Dodgers batters, so they had best do what they can to score off of Milwaukee’s starters. So, of course, the Dodgers starters turned in performances of three and four and a third innings and eight of their nine runs the Brewers have given up have come from their relievers. I dunno, man. It’s baseball. It lends itself to anticipatory analysis worse than any other sport.
All I do know for sure is that this series has been as close as it gets so far, with each game being decided by a run and the outcome being determined late. The first two games have given me a sense that the teams are just feeling each other out and that the next three, in Los Angeles, will provide a bit more coherence to all of this. Not that there isn’t something a bit fun about incoherence when it comes to a playoff series.
Your viewing guide:
NLCS Game 3
Brewers vs. Dodgers
Ballpark: Dodger Stadium
Time: 7:39 PM Eastern
Pitchers: Jhoulys Chacin vs Walker Buehler
Jhoulys Chacin had an excellent NLDS start against the Colorado Rockies, turning in five scoreless innings. If he does something approaching that tonight the Brewers will be in pretty good shape given that Josh Hader — who pitched three shutdown innings in Game one — is available again tonight. To the extent Craig Counsell needs to dig more deeply into his reliever corps, however, things could get dicey. Corbin Burnes, Jeremy Jeffress, Corey Knebel and Joakim Soria have combined to allow seven earned runs in four innings. Brandon Woodruff, who has been dominant thus far, throwing five scoreless innings, stands a good chance of being the opener for Game 4, so Counsell will likely try to keep him off the mound tonight. That puts a decent amount of pressure on Chacin to get the game to Hader with as few innings remaining as possible.
For Los Angeles, it’s Walker Buehler who, the grand slam he gave up to Ronald Acuña in the NLDS notwithstanding, was the Dodgers’ most dominant starter down the stretch. In keeping with the somewhat flipped script so far, however, the Los Angeles bullpen has been solid, allowing just two runs over their ten and two-thirds innings in Games 1 and 2. Not that Dave Roberts wouldn’t love to see Buehler go deep tonight too.