The Detroit Tigers’ disastrous series against the Cleveland Indians concluded Sunday night and if there is one thing the series yet again showed, it is that Brad Ausmus either isn’t ready or isn’t a good enough manager to help a team contend for a World Series.
Mismanagement of the bullpen and the starting pitching is often the hardest thing for a manager to overcome and it is sinking the Tigers right now. Friday night Anibal Sanchez flew off the rails after six shutout innings. Ausmus elected to go to lefty Ian Krol with a left handed hitter on deck, it gave Terry Francona the ability to outsmart Ausmus. The Indians pulled the lefty back and put in right handed hitter Ryan Raburn to face Krol, who doesn’t pitch well against right-handers. This allowed the inning to continue only to give-way to Al Alburquerque who got two outs before a three run bomb.
The question for Ausmus is why exactly are you putting in Krol at all? As a manager you have to know who is available on the other team’s bench, Ausmus either didn’t know or lost track of that fact. Alburquerque while up and down, can pitch to both sides of the plate and should have been the choice. There is a chance the Tigers escape unscathed or at least left the inning tied with the right reliever chosen, instead Krol extended the inning.
Then again on Saturday, Drew VerHagen was making his first career starting appearance and pitched decently. It was clear the kid was running out of steam though and instead of electing to pull him and a) giving him a solid first start, and b) giving the bullpen a shot at redeeming itself, Ausmus left him in. The Indians tacked on three runs and it would be all they would need to ultimately win. Pulling him earlier, while suffering a taxed bullpen, could have helped the Tigers keep the game close and allowed them to maybe squeak out a win.
Finally on Sunday, in a tie game, Ausmus elected to put in Joe Nathan again; in the ninth inning again; and he blew the game, again. At what point does Ausmus have to look at himself as a manager and say, “that move isn’t working it is time to make a change.” Instead he appears to be letting the inmates run the asylum at Comerica Park and is pandering to veterans and players who honestly do not deserve his trust at this point.
The Tigers are an incredibly talented team and it shows in their record and in their play on the baseball field. That talent probably helps cover up more managerial blunders by Ausmus than I’m sure he’d be willing to admit to. Continually putting Nathan in in close games, allowing Verlander to pitch too long, playing Don Kelly in terrible spots and resting seemingly red hot players like Ian Kinsler only for them to become ice cold appears to be the theme of Ausmus’ first year as manager. Perhaps more concerning than all of his bad decisions though, is that he keeps making them.
Looking back at last weekend’s four game set the issues that plagued the Tigers, the bullpen, are similar, but they all feature the same bad moves Ausmus committed at the beginning of the year. Failing to pitch Joba Chamberlain longer and pulling a starter too late continues to haunt the Tigers. Their record is very good, but so is their offensive talent. Detroit is a streaky team and often those streaks fall on the managers shoulders especially when the team can’t seem to get itself out of free fall. Ausmus has to start being inventive if he wants the team to win, doing the same thing and hoping for a different result is not the way to go.
If Ausmus is going to stick in baseball as a manager he better get his act together and figure out how to rectify some of the continual mistakes he is making. Looking at his job thus far into this first year, there is no way to say Ausmus is a good manager because simply, his moves haven’t worked. The team isn’t stealing as many bases, aren’t manufacturing any runs and the bullpen management is a disaster.
As of right now, there is no way to the team’s talent hasn’t covred up his deficiencies and that will be a problem for the Tigers moving forward.