Baker and the Washington Nationals received a huge break Tuesday when Game 4 of their NLDS against the Cubs was postponed because of rain here in the Chicago area.
The Cubs lead the series, 2-1, and the Nationals are facing elimination in Game 4. The unexpected day off was a gift for Washington, because now it can start ace right-hander Stephen Strasburg on regular rest in this critical game.
Or so we thought.
After the postponement Tuesday, Baker instead announced he would be sticking with Tanner Roark for Game 4. That's the same Tanner Roark who has a 4.67 ERA pitching in the weak National League East this season.
Seriously, Dusty? That's the guy you want to pitch with your season on the line? Should this even be a debate?
Baker also claimed that Strasburg was battling illness, because there is a lot of mold in the air in Chicago at this time of year, and apparently the air conditioning wasn't working right at the Nationals' hotel or some such thing.
Talk about lame excuses.
I can attest that the mold count is a problem in Chicago right now. I suffer from a mold allergy, and I've struggled with it off and on for the past month or so. But you know what I do? I take some allergy medicine and go to work. It's kind of an annoying thing, but it's hardly debilitating. It doesn't prevent a person from doing his job.
Early Wednesday, Baker reversed course and announced that Strasburg will start Game 4. Duh. I assume someone from the Washington front office stepped in and knocked some sense into him. Even if Strasburg fails, this is an obvious move, and it should have been announced Tuesday to give Strasburg additional time to prepare himself mentally for the start.
But Baker isn't very good at strategy, and often fails to make the obvious move. Take Game 3, for example. With the game tied 1-1 in the bottom of the eighth inning, the Cubs had the go-ahead run on second base with two outs and Anthony Rizzo at the plate.
Baker had a number of options there. He had a solid reliever on the mound in Brandon Kintzler. He could have walked Rizzo and taken his chances with Willson Contreras, the Cubs' on-deck hitter. He could have brought in his best left-handed reliever, Sean Doolittle, to deal with Rizzo. Or, he could have walked Rizzo and brought in his best right-handed reliever, Ryan Madson, to deal with Contreras.
Instead, Baker opts to bring in 36-year-old journeyman lefty Oliver Perez, he of the 4.64 ERA. Rizzo singles on the first pitch from Perez, and the Cubs win Game 3, 2-1.
Nice move, Dusty, nice move. I guess he was saving Doolittle for the ninth inning, huh? Maybe you do that in the regular season, but certainly not in the playoffs.
Honestly, is there a manager out there who is a worse tactician than Dusty Baker? My goodness ...