The pinch-hit calls
Yes, in the short term putting in Jordan Luplow worked. In the long run, it did not. You don’t sit your hottest hitter in favor of a struggling one. Luplow wouldn’t be on this team this year if the Indians’ offense wasn’t garbage. There was nothing for Sandy Alomar to think that Luplow was the right call. While the 7th inning move to pull Josh Naylor didn’t hurt the Indians in that inning, it did in the 9th where Luplow again failed to produce.
There’s nothing you can say about what would’ve happened if Naylor had stayed in. It’s impossible to know. What isn’t impossible to know is that Luplow had been a bad hitter all year, and him being lucky isn’t proof that you made the right call. Especially when you then need Luplow to produce, again. Talk about doing the impossible.
The same goes for sitting down Tyler Naquin in the ninth for Austin Hedges. Naquin’s not Mike Trout but he’s a hell of a better option to work a count than Hedges. Who, by the way, went down on a checked-swing strikeout. Naquin at least has some power that he can make a mistake hurt an opposing pitcher.
There are going to be some who argue that these were “smart” calls but remember, if the team didn’t win, then it didn’t work.
It’s impossible to say that Alomar would’ve won if he made different choices. It’s impossible to say that had Terry Francona been healthy enough to manage, we’d see a different outcome. What isn’t impossible to say his that Alomar’s decesion were the biggest (but not the only) reason the team failed to advance out of the first round.