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Detroit Tigers manager Brad Ausmus Photo: Keith Allison via Flickr

It’s been a tough season for Tigers’ manager Brad Ausmus.

  • He was left with two vacancies to fill in the starting rotation when the Tigers traded away Rick Porcello and let Max Scherzer walk in free agency.
  • The incumbent closer, Joe Nathan was lost in the first week of the season.
  • Victor Martinez has been a shell of his former self ever since he tore his MCL in off-season workouts.
  • Miguel Cabrera, Alex Avila and Justin Verlander have all missed significant time due to injuries.
  • David Price, Yoenis Cespedes and Joakim Soria were all dealt at the trade deadline in the infamous Tigers reboot.
  • The man who hired him, GM Dave Dombrowski, was just recently let go.

It seems as though everything has been working against Brad Ausmus this season.

Especially Brad Ausmus.

In what has become almost a weekly routine for Tigers fans, Ausmus was left to explain a questionable managing decision that led to the Tigers losing to the Houston Astros 6-5 on Sunday on a walk off single by Jose Altuve. In the bottom of the 9th with a runner on 3rd and two outs, Ausmus opted not to walk the American League’s best hitter, instead electing to pitch around him. The first pitch found it’s way into the strike zone and off Altuve’s bat into center field, scoring the winning run.

It seemed like a no-brainer to even the most casual Tigers observer that the right call would be to walk Altuve. If the tables were turned and Miguel Cabrera was at bat, you’d bet the farm that the other team was going to put him on base. Still Ausmus made his decision, but it’s his reasoning that confused me the most.

Preston Tucker.

Yes, big bad Preston Tucker.

After the game, Ausmus declared that he didn’t want to walk Altuve because the Astro’s had the young lefty waiting to bat as a pinch hitter. The same Preston Tucker who was 1-9 in the series against them. The same Preston Tucker who was batting .250 on the season. Ausmus was worried about a hitter that wasn’t even in the game, so he chose to pitch to one of the best hitters in the game.

Tucker was in Ausmus’ head so bad that he left Tom Gorzelanny, a lefty, in the game against three right handed hitters in the bottom of the ninth to avoid Tucker being used as a pinch hitter should he bring the righty Alex Wilson in. Gorzelanny inevitably gave up a hit, a triple with two outs, prompting Ausmus to bring in Wilson.

These kind of decisions have become a troubling trend for the young manager.

Whether it’s been pulling an ace too early from a game, only to have his bullpen blow the lead or pinch running for your best players in situations that don’t warrant it, Ausmus continuously has made the wrong decisions when presented with a decision to make. I can not think of a time when I said, “Wow, what a great call” in reference to Ausmus (and if you have, please feel free to let me know).

Let me set the record straight, I am not a Brad Ausmus hater by any means. I defended him all last year and throughout the first part of this season. “He’s a new manager”, I said. “He has to be able to make mistakes so he can learn from them”, I said. Then I started looking at his repeated mismanagement of even the most novice of baseball decisions and his inability to learn on the job. Unless he can prove that his baseball IQ is higher than it appears, the Tigers might be wise to look at replacements this off-season.