LEADING OFF: Skippers in peril, plus Astros and Yanks prep

A look at what's happening around the major leagues Monday:



The day after the season is often dicey for managers on the hot seat. Last year, the Twins fired longtime skipper Ron Gardenhire less 24 hours after their final game. The Padres moved quickly Sunday, announcing that interim manager Pat Murphy won't lead the club next year. Washington manager Matt Williams could be in trouble, too, after a team that was a World Series favorite didn't even make it to the playoffs. Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said a decision about Williams' future will come soon, adding they're ''not going to let people twist in the wind.''


The Astros and Yankees work out at Yankee Stadium, a day before they open the playoffs with the AL wild-card game. Houston ace Dallas Keuchel is expected to talk about starting on three days' rest for the first time in his career. Keuchel and his teammates took two of three in the Bronx in late August.


The Cardinals are expecting to get Yadier Molina back in the playoffs after the star catcher suffered a slightly torn ligament in his left thumb on Sept. 20 and sat out the rest of the regular season. Molina met with a hand specialist last week and was scheduled to be re-evaluated this week, but all indications from St. Louis are that he'll be ready to go when the Cards open the NL division series at home Friday against either the Cubs or Pirates. The seven-time reigning NL Gold Glove Award winner hit .270 with four homers this season.


Other training staffs are keeping busy this week, too. The Mets are hoping lefty Steven Matz (back) pitches without discomfort in a bullpen Tuesday, while Blue Jays shortstop Troy Tulowitzki (cracked scapula, upper back bruises) should be ready to go after playing two of the final three games of the season. Royals outfielder Lorenzo Cain (right knee) was rested down the stretch but should be ready to go, while the Astros had to sit outfielder Carlos Gomez (sore ribs) in their final three games. The Cardinals have concerns beyond Molina, with outfielder Stephen Piscotty returning Sunday for the first time since sustaining a concussion six days prior and ace Adam Wainwright only coming back to action last week after an Achilles tendon injury kept him out most of the season.