Don Mattingly’s job is safe no matter what happens in NLCS

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As of last week the Dodgers reportedly hadn’t decided on Don Mattingly’s fate for next season, but now Ken Gurnick of MLB.com talked to a source who says he’ll be back as manager regardless of what happens in the NLCS.

Mattingly’s job was in serious jeopardy in May and June, but the Dodgers turned their whole season around in a huge way and then beat the Braves in the NLDS. His contract includes an option for 2014, so to bring him back the Dodgers simply need to not fire him, although it’ll be interesting to see if there’s any tension surrounding what would be lame-duck status. Last offseason he asked to have his 2014 option picked up in advance and the Dodgers said no thanks, so clearly Mattingly isn’t keen on managing under a one-year deal.

Mattingly has a 260-225 (.536) record in three seasons since taking over for Joe Torre, including 92-70 this year for the team’s fifth 90-win campaign in the past 20 seasons.

Zack Cozart thinks the way the Rays have been using Sergio Romo is bad for baseball

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The Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.

In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.

The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.

Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”

It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.

It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.