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A Tale of Five NL West Managers

Colorado Rockies news and links for Saturday, August 28, 2021

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  • Gabe Kapler of the Giants has all but cemented his status as NL Manager of the Year.
  • Dave Roberts of the Dodgers has proven again that he can field a contender, this time around a series of serious injuries and inactives.
  • Bud Black of the Rockies has led a team toward a win total far higher than preseason projections.
  • Torey Lovullo of the Diamondbacks has been forced to navigate a team through the worst record in the National League.
  • Jayce Tingler of the Padres reportedly told his pitching coach to get out last week.

There has been an absolute world of situations going on within the NL West. Some managers may be seated on varying degrees of hot seats, while others will soon entertain how to carry their successes into the modern postseason or a restructured front office.

Analyzing Managerial Success: The Partial Cheat Sheet

For the remainder of this article, this image will be referred to as “the graph.”

Gabe Kapler and Dave Roberts have made their own job security

Back in March, the 2021 Giants were projected to finish six games below .500. They now hold the best record in baseball, and Kapler’s job is far more safe than it was in Philadelphia where he was fired about 26 months ago.

The graph doesn’t shine a light on the challenges Dave Roberts has faced, as a series of dismal injuries and a starter placed on leave has caused ongoing strain on his lineup card. Despite the inherent challenge, the Dodgers are still on pace to make their ninth-consecutive postseason appearance, and Roberts has proven to get creative when it comes to shaking up his lineup. He’s looked into how to mitigate Mookie Betts’ workload, and the outfielder has even taken reps at second base.

It’s safe say both Kapler and Roberts won’t have to manage with their jobs on the line for a while.

Before Friday’s game in Los Angeles, Bud Black spoke on the strategies that both Roberts and Kapler have capitalized on this year. “I think in general, Kapler is giving his starting pitchers a little bit more room, keeping them in the game longer.” Black said he feels that Kapler has embraced the strategy a little more than his previous time with the Phillies, but the Giants skipper will still match up with right-left bullpen action similar to Roberts and the Dodgers.

“I think Dave has done a great job over the years of learning how to handle [his] pitching staff,” Black said. He highlighted the strengths of former Dodger pitching coach Rick Honeycutt and how a strong foundation was set for both Roberts and Mark Prior, the new pitching coach.

Mix in a handful of inactive starters for parts of 2021 (Dustin May, Clayton Kershaw, Trevor Bauer), and both Roberts and Prior has been forced to rely on a foundation when making their pitching moves. They look to find out how to develop a postseason-ready bullpen at the same time.

Bud Black could have job security in his own hands

The graph says little about the managerial impact of the Rockies as they began the season with a postseason percentage that doesn’t need repeating. It therefore doesn’t show the solid job Bud Black appears to have managed this year, but it shouldn’t go without notice.

Baseball Prospectus’ preseason PECOTA projections had the Rockies finishing this season with a 60-102 record, the would-be worst mark in franchise history. Colorado is instead on pace to finish with 74 wins, which suggests the managerial presence of Bud Black has made a direct impact.

He is preceded in position by Walt Weiss and Tim Tracy, two managers that reportedly left the team on their own terms. Both Weiss and Tracy cited their own unique words of ‘poor working relationships with front office’ as reason for their resignations. The Rockies will soon announce a full-time general manager, but a better-than-expected win total by the Rockies this year suggests a new GM won’t part ways with the field manager — unless Black makes the call himself.

Torey Lovullo’s squad has seen a slow unravel

Torey Lovullo has been forced to endure through his front office selling some of his top players at the trade deadline. After bringing Starling Marte to Phoenix last year, the Arizona front office suggested Lovullo was the guy to lead in an October run. The D-Backs instead fired their hitting coaches at the beginning of June, which launched further speculation into Lovullo’s job security.

Lovullo’s hot seat might be cooling off, however. He is currently fifth on the prop bet list of managers that will be the first to get fired, per BetOnline (and highlighted by AZ Central). His odds in the preseason were double his current mark.

Jayce Tingler has the pieces, but not the wins

Blake Snell and Yu Darvish made their way to San Diego this winter, and yet the Padres have still struggled with starting pitcher depth. They lost out on the Max Scherzer sweepstakes despite the team’s seemlingly-endless pocketbook, and they are now losing out on postseason dreams after once placing the baseball world on high alert.

Tingler now has higher odds than Lovullo to be fired first. The graph above can serve as a direct indicator for why, and the Padres front office could show more of their tenacity in the pursuit of a ‘win now’ fullfilment. It might come at the expense of Tingler’s job.

★ ★ ★

Rockies Insider: Analyzing Colorado’s notable prospects in rookie ball as Arizona Complex League season winds down | The Denver Post ($)

As the Arizona Complex League schedule comes to a close, Kyle Newman highlights the dominant performance of Adael Amador, Benny Montgomery, Yorvis Torrealba (Yorvit’s son) and Luis Amoroso. Third baseman Warming Bernabel was highlighted as the teams top offensive performer and was called up to Low-A Fresno earlier this month.

Breaking down NL Cy Young Award race |’s Paul Casella identifies the four frontrunners in the NL Cy Young race: Walker Buehler, Zack Wheeler, Corbin Burnes and Brandon Woodruff. The Rockies might avoid all four of them through the end of the year, but they might face Wheeler in Philadelphia from Sept. 10-12. Kevin Gausman of the Giants is also in the hunt, and the Rockies face San Francisco six times in September.

★ ★ ★

On the farm:

Triple-A: Round Rock Express 5, Albuquerque Isotopes 1

Albuquerque and Round Rock played a seven-inning contest on Saturday, and Ryan Rolison made his return to Triple-A after being sidelined in early June with appendicitis. Rolison allowed all five of Round Rock’s runs in five innings, and allowed three home runs.

Double-A: Harrisburg Senators 7, Hartford Yard Goats 2

Hartford posted eight hits to Harrisburg’s nine, but the run total painted a far different story. Willie MacIver went off, however, going 4-for-4 and building some much-needed momentum in Double-A. (He currently holds a .157 average with Hartford.)

High-A: Doubleheader

Spokane walked off the Everett AquaSox in the eighth, courtesy of an RBI single by Niko Decolati. Peter Lambert returned to the mound for Spokane, tossing two frames but allowing two runs, both by way of solo homers.

Spokane opened Game 2 with three unanswered runs, and a three-RBI performance by Decolati capped off a solid day at the plate. Finn Del Bonta-Smith tossed the final frame for Spokane and recorded his first save of the year while keeping his ERA in the twos.

Low-A: Modesto Nuts 4, Fresno Grizzlies 1

A two-run second inning was all the runs the Nuts needed to take this one. Fresno ended the night with just four hits, but one of them came from Zac Veen as he sustains his OPS in the .900’s.