MLB Playoffs: Managers Who Will Be Feeling Pressure in October

Chris Hauler@@ChrisHaulerFeatured ColumnistSeptember 30, 2015

MLB Playoffs: Managers Who Will Be Feeling Pressure in October

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    Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports

    Having a great manager doesn't guarantee postseason success.

    Games are still won on the field, but managers are tasked with putting players in the best position to succeed.

    Bruce Bochy didn't have a ton of success before joining the San Francisco Giants in 2007. Before arriving in San Francisco, Bochy managed the San Diego Padres for 12 seasons. 

    His regular-season record was below .500, and he couldn't guide the Padres past the National League Division Series. In four postseason appearances, Bochy's club was 8-16, according to Baseball-Reference.com.

    The Giants didn't make the playoffs in the first three seasons under Bochy but qualified in 2010 and turned into a dynasty. The team won the World Series in 2010, 2012 and 2014.

    Bochy's decision to pull Tim Hudson in the fifth inning of Game 7 and bring in Madison Bumgarner is the perfect example of a manager pulling the right strings and putting his club in the best position to win a championship.

    Here are five managers who will feel the pressure to step up as a tactician and help guide his team to a World Series championship.

Ned Yost

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    Ned Yost has received a ton of criticism over the past couple of years. His decision-making has been a source of frustration for Kansas City's fanbase.

    The Royals have struggled recently and have a 10-16 record in September. The biggest issue heading into the playoffs is the starting rotation; it's been a thorn in the club's side all season.

    Johnny Cueto hasn't pitched like the ace he was with the Cincinnati Reds. His earned run average with the Royals is 4.99. From mid-August to mid-September, Cueto gave up a combined 73 earned runs on 48 hits in five starts. As a result, the team has lost six of his last seven starts. 

    He's pitched much better in his two latest outings, giving up five earned runs on 15 hits in 14 innings pitched.

    The pressure will be on Yost to put his pitchers in the best position to succeed. The way he orders the playoff rotation will be magnified and critiqued, and his decisions regarding the pitching staff will play an integral role in how far Kansas City advances.

John Gibbons

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    The pressure is on John Gibbons.

    The Toronto Blue Jays are filled with potential award-winners and high hopes. The club has arguably the best pitcher in the American League in David Price, and MVP candidate Josh Donaldson anchors a powerful lineup.

    At the trade deadline, the front office made a few key moves to help the club turn into a real contender. Gibbons has a history of developing young talent, but can he guide a World Series team?

    That's still to be seen.

    With a top-notch lineup, a tremendous defense and an ace like Price, the Blue Jays have a good chance of winning their first championship since 1993. 

    Gibbons has an opportunity to prove he's more than just a transitional coach.

Clint Hurdle

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    The Pittsburgh Pirates are in the postseason for the third consecutive season under manager Clint Hurdle.

    After losing in five games to the Cardinals in the 2013 American League Division Series, the club took a step back last season and dropped its wild-card game to the San Francisco Giants, 8-0.

    Rob Biertempfel of TribLive quoted Hurdle as saying his club isn't satisfied with just making the playoffs anymore (h/t Fox Sports):

    I would never slight the (significance) of getting in. But we're trying to create a different type of legacy. We've kept things in perspective. We'll play the game today, then figure out where we are afterwords. But we definitely are focused on finishing the season. We haven't dropped any of our expectations. We're still playing for the (NL Central) title.

    According to ESPN.com, the Pirates' starting rotation ranks fifth in the majors with a 3.50 ERA, and its bullpen ranks first with a 2.68 ERA. Strong pitching wins playoff games, and Pittsburgh has plenty of it.

    Can Hurdle prove to be a manager who takes a club to the next level? The team has a ton of talent, and if it doesn't win, then it'll lead to a close look at Hurdle's decision-making.

Terry Collins

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    The New York Mets are a well-rounded team. The club has a top rotation, a solid bullpen and an excellent lineup. Even more, the addition of Yoenis Cespedes has transformed the lineup into a real strength.

    The club hasn't made the postseason since 2006, so it's an exciting time for the fanbase.

    And despite spending 11 years as a major league manager, this is Collins' first taste of guiding a team into the playoffs.

    Managing his bullpen will be the toughest task for the veteran manager. Will he stick with Tyler Clippard, who has struggled this month? Will Bartolo Colon adjust to a bullpen role? Can Addison Reed continue pitching well?

Don Mattingly

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    There's plenty of speculation that Don Mattingly's job status depends on how the Los Angeles Dodgers perform in the playoffs.

    Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times reports that there is "uncertainty" surrounding his managerial future with the Dodgers.

    Armed with a top payroll and two of the top pitchers in baseball, the Dodgers appear to be a threat to win a championship every season. Yet the team has a 6-8 record in the postseason over the last two years and hasn't made a World Series appearance.

    Despite a top rotation, the team's bullpen ranks No. 20 in the league with 3.93 ERA. Determining how much a starter has left in the tank and balancing the bullpen will determine whether the club can advance to the World Series.