Cardinals manager Tony La Russa made history Monday for an unusual accomplishment, and no, it wasn’t for making the highest amount of mistakes involving Allen Craig caught stealing. By bringing in four relievers during Game 5 of the World Series, La Russa broke the record for most pitching changes in a single postseason. He has now made 65 pitching changes during the playoffs.
The previous high mark was 62 pitching changes made by the Giants in the 2002 playoffs (they played 16 games). Prior to Game 5 (through 15 playoff games), La Russa had matched the ’97 Indians who made 61 changes in 18 games. With his four changes in Game 5 — including bringing in Lance Lynn solely to issue an intentional walk — La Russa blew right past the previous high mark.
So how did we get to this point? You can really point to La Russa’s odd managing in the NLCS.
Chris Carpenter was the only Cardinals pitcher who lasted long enough to get a win against the Brewers, and it was when he went five innings in Game 3. Out of the six games against Milwaukee, four pitchers were pulled in the 5th inning. Game 6 starter Edwin Jackson was relieved after two innings in the series-clinching victory.
La Russa looked like a genius for most of the playoffs because nearly all of his decisions went well. Now that he’s made a few mistakes — such as having Mark Rzepczynski pitch to Mike Napoli in the 8th Monday — he doesn’t look as smart. It’s amazing how much perception is influenced by outcome, rather than by how sound the decision was.