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Tony La Russa is on pace for the most pitching changes in playoff history

Oct 24, 2011, 12:18 PM EDT

Cincinnati Reds v St. Louis Cardinals Getty Images

The fact that Tony La Russa makes an incredible number of pitching changes is a surprise to no one, but Matthew Leach of MLB.com crunched the numbers and found that the Cardinals are on pace to set the all-time record for relievers used in the playoffs.

With at least two and possibly three games remaining La Russa has gone to his bullpen 61 times, which is one short of the record set by the Indians in 1997 and Giants in 2002. And those two teams played 18 and 16 games, respectively, while the Cardinals have played only 15 so far.

Ron Washington and the Rangers aren’t that far behind, either, going to the bullpen 54 times in 14 games. By the end of the World Series there’s a decent chance the Cardinals and Rangers will hold the top two spots on the all-time reliever usage list.

  1. Jonny 5 - Oct 24, 2011 at 12:20 PM

    And that’s along with a complete game by Carp.

  2. cur68 - Oct 24, 2011 at 12:36 PM

    Elvis Andrus being in the WS is also a record; he’s the 1 and only Elvis to have ever made it. Same with Yadier, but how many Yadier’s married ‘Scilla, got really fat, and performed in Vegas before OD’ing then got turned into a billion dollar industry around gambling & quickie weddings (which frankly is all that’s important as far as that Elvis goes)?

    • halladaysbicep - Oct 24, 2011 at 1:21 PM

      Elvis was spotted with the Phillies celebrating their 4 game sweep of the Rangers for the 2011 World Series Championship…

  3. The Baseball Idiot - Oct 24, 2011 at 1:09 PM

    Yeah, but this does’t prorate Sparky Anderson’s moves to an extra round of playoffs and more games per round.

    If you look at it percentage wise, I’ll bet Sparky still leads the way. Excuse me, I mean Captain Hook.

  4. Ari Collins - Oct 24, 2011 at 1:16 PM

    More interesting would be pitching changes in a postseason series (or WS if you wanted to be even more specific). The extra rounds make any “total for one postseason” statistics rather limited, since you’re almost always going to find the leaderboard filled with postseasons from the last 15-20 years.

  5. spudchukar - Oct 24, 2011 at 1:23 PM

    And thank God he is. Cause Lohse and Jackson were fortunate they lasted as long as they did, and without lifting Carpenter for Craig who proceeded to deliver the game-winning hit.

    Plus, by making the changes, he has kept his relievers sharp but not overworked vs. Washington who has overextended Ogando, to the point where he has to be a questionable choice even after a day off. Keep changing Tony, it has gotten us to within 2 games of a WS title.

  6. natstowngreg - Oct 24, 2011 at 1:24 PM

    The ’97 Indians and ’02 Giants lost the Series. Will the same fate befall the ’11 Cards? Stay tuned.

    Interestingly, the ’02 Giants met the Cards in the NLCS, winning 4 games to 1. Dusty Baker out-pitching-changed LaRussa, 17-13. Dusty made 26 changes in the World Series to Mike Scioscia’s 20.
    [Thanks, as usual, to Baseball-reference.com]

  7. Chris Fiorentino - Oct 24, 2011 at 1:35 PM

    This actually could have been headlined “The most inevitable thing in the history of thin…part deux”

    • paperlions - Oct 24, 2011 at 2:39 PM

      Or the “most shocking thing in the history of things”….that TLR doesn’t already hold the record despite multiple opportunities to manage 3 rounds of playoff games…but this really goes in my “who cares” box, right on top of players not catering to the media right after games.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Oct 24, 2011 at 4:04 PM

        If the Cardinals end up winning, I don’t think too many people will have a problem with the # of pitching changes. However, God forbid they lose AND he sets this record…whoa Nellie we may see enough anti-TLR posts to make the NBC hamsters die of exhaustion within 2 hours of the final out.

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