Torey Lovullo deservingly getting his flowers this Diamondbacks playoff run

Oct 22, 2023, 3:03 PM

Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo in the NLCS vs. the Phillies...

Alek Thomas #5 of the Arizona Diamondbacks celebrates with manager Torey Lovullo #17 after hitting a solo home run against Zack Wheeler #45 of the Philadelphia Phillies during the seventh inning in Game Five of the National League Championship Series at Chase Field on October 21, 2023 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

(Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

Torey Lovullo is all fingers. His team is all buttons. Barring a calamitous tactical blunder in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series, this much is clear:

The Diamondbacks manager is one of the breakout stars of the 2023 postseason.

Lovullo has given his team a personality. A great energy. He has been the party starter, more Beer Wolf than chaperone. He has led with his chin during press conferences, chiding the media for suggesting an 84-win team was lucky to be in the National League Championship Series.

During the chaos after a Game 4 victory on Friday, he even called out the Phillies backup catcher without saying his name, eviscerating a rarely used reserve (Garrett Stubbs) who said he couldn’t wait to swim in the Chase Field pool.

Many MLB managers wouldn’t let it rip like this, not on this stage, and not when Lovullo is clearly holding an inferior hand. But his audacity is fueling the Diamondbacks in ways reminiscent to how the oversized bravado of Bruce Arians once elevated the Cardinals.

If you haven’t noticed, the Diamondbacks are not exactly tipping the scales of personality. Many of their Latino stars speak through interpreters when cameras are rolling. Corbin Carroll and Christian Walker are diligent workers, not primal scream, flip-the-table kind of guys. When things go bad, they retreat into work, into their process.

Lovullo has given this team some sandpaper and some old school. No manager is immune to hindsight in October, but he’s mostly rolling hot in the postseason, including the iconic Alek Thomas pinch-hit appearance on Friday night.

Lovullo still has his critics, and I don’t know why. He absorbed a massive teardown in Arizona. He has happily captained a small-budget dinghy in a division full of runaway spenders. He’s lived on a series of short-term commitments, never allowing his contract or questionable status to impact his vibe.

After seven years on the job, his regular season record is 42 games under .500. And yet he’s never lost himself or his swagger. He will bring rare and much-deserved leverage into his next round of contract negotiations, proving the baseball gods work in mysterious ways.

When Lovullo was hired in November 2016, I reached out to former ASU great and Red Sox star Dustin Pedroia, who gushed over the new hire. He raved about Lovullo’s authenticity, and how Lovullo really cared about those under his watch. Pedroia said the Diamondbacks would be “in good shape for a long time.”

He wasn’t lying. Seven years later, it’s good to see Lovullo getting his due.

Reach Bickley at Listen to Bickley & Marotta weekdays from 6 – 10 a.m. on Arizona Sports.

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