7 skipper switches that led to playoffs

October 4th, 2022

When the Blue Jays dismissed fourth-year manager Charlie Montoyo on July 13, the intentions behind the move were clear -- a clubhouse shake-up could breathe new life into a fourth-place team that had failed to meet expectations in the first half of the season. In one of the more successful midseason managerial swaps in recent memory, the Blue Jays turned their season around under interim manager John Schneider, climbing into second place in the AL East and becoming the first AL club to clinch a Wild Card spot on Sept. 29.

It's worth noting that Toronto wasn't the only club to see a midseason overhaul pay off in 2022 -- the Phillies, who relieved manager Joe Girardi of his duties after the team opened the season at a lackluster 22-29, clinched a Wild Card spot on Oct. 3.

Below is a look at the last seven managerial changes during the season that resulted in a postseason berth:

2022 Phillies: Rob Thomson (replaced Joe Girardi)

It was ultimately a 10-18 May record that led the Phillies to promote bench coach Thomson, hoping to turn their luck around. And while their journey to the postseason was far from an easy one, things did get better. From June 3 to Oct. 3, the Phillies posted the third-best record in the National League (65-44) -- a stretch that ended with their first postseason berth in 11 years.

2022 Blue Jays: John Schneider (replaced Charlie Montoyo)

In the midst of a difficult stretch in July, the Blue Jays swapped Montoyo for bench coach Schneider. The club was 46-42 at the time of Montoyo's dismissal, just holding onto the third American League Wild Card spot in a race that would only get more competitive. Under Schneider, things turned around in a hurry -- after July 12, the Blue Jays played to a .603 winning percentage (third-best in the AL over that period) and clinched a playoff spot on Sept. 29.

2009 Rockies: Jim Tracy (replaced Clint Hurdle)

The former Pirates and Dodgers skipper earned a promotion from bench coach and helped guide the team from last place to a Wild Card berth. The Rockies started the year 18-28 under Hurdle, but finished the season with a franchise-record 92 wins. Colorado lost in four games in the Division Series to the eventual NL champion Phillies, but Tracy earned NL Manager of the Year Award honors after the Rockies' remarkable resurgence.

2008 Brewers: Dale Sveum (replaced Ned Yost)

Sveum spent six seasons on the Brewers' coaching staff, including a 12-game stint as manager when Yost was dismissed near the end of the 2008 campaign. The move was a surprise for a team in postseason contention, but an eight-game slump that dropped Milwaukee into a tie for the NL Wild Card spot prompted a change. Under Sveum, the Brewers went 7-5 and reached the postseason for the first time since 1982. Milwaukee clinched its postseason berth on the final day of the regular season, eliminating the Mets, who made a midseason managerial change of their own from Willie Randolph to Jerry Manuel.

2004 Astros: Phil Garner (replaced Jimy Williams)

With their eyes on a World Series run, the Astros loaded up in 2004, signing free-agent pitchers Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte and acquiring outfielder Carlos Beltran in a June trade. But the club didn't meet expectations in the first half; sitting at a 44-44 record at the All-Star break, Houston dismissed Williams and replaced him with former Brewers and Tigers skipper Garner. Under Garner, the Astros finished out the season 48-26 and reached the playoffs. They defeated the Braves in the NL Division Series before losing to the Cardinals in seven games in the NL Championship Series. Garner also led the club to the World Series the next season.

2003 Marlins: Jack McKeon (replaced Jeff Torborg)

In perhaps the most successful instance of a new manager turning around a struggling season, the Marlins replaced Torborg with McKeon after a 16-22 start in 2003. The Marlins finished out the rest of the season by going 75-49 and advanced to their second World Series in seven seasons by defeating the Giants in the NLDS and the Cubs in the NLCS. The Marlins then took home the franchise's second title by besting the Yankees in six games, and McKeon, at age 72, became the oldest manager to win a World Series.

1996 Dodgers: Bill Russell (replaced Tommy Lasorda)

Russell had very large shoes to fill when he assumed managerial duties for the Dodgers in the wake of Hall of Famer Lasorda's retirement. In the midst of the 1996 campaign, Lasorda stepped away from the dugout due to health concerns and a desire to spend more time with his family, handing the reigns to Russell, who helped the Dodgers finish the year 49-37 for a second-place finish in the NL West and a Wild Card spot. Los Angeles' postseason run didn't last long, however, as the Dodgers were swept in three games by the Braves.