Sunday, September 20, 2015

Games Joe Girardi's Pitching Mismanagement Has Cost the 2015 Yankees


Last night, I saw someone defend Joe Girardi on Twitter, telling me he'd done a great job, and should be named American League Manager of the Year.

As soon as the EMTs found the pieces of my exploded head, and put them back together, I got back online, and I told him that Girardi had blown 20 games with pitching mismanagement this season.

He didn't believe me. So I decided to find out if I was right.

Note that I'm not including bad hitting or defensive substitutions, either pre-game or in-game. Nor am I including leaving pitchers in too long -- because that's rare for him. I'm not even going to include games where he chose the wrong starting pitcher, like Chris Capuano.

Nor am I going to include games where Girardi and the pitchers he foolishly brought in got bailed out by later timely hitting. This is about games lost, not games won.

This list includes only games in which Girardi took a pitcher out too soon, and/or brought in the wrong reliever.

1. April 10. Girardi brings in Esmil Rogers and lets him pitch 4 2/3 innings. Boston Red Sox 6, Yankees 5 in 19 innings.

2. April 11. It's 2-1 Red Sox going into the 7th. Girardi brings in Chris Martin, and then Matt Tracy. Red Sox 8, Yankees 4. Major screwups on back-to-back days.

3. April 15. It's 3-2 Yankees going into the 6th. Nathan Eovaldi has thrown 101 pitches. He could have gone another inning. Girardi brings in David Carpenter, and he allows a home run to the first batter. He allows 2 more baserunners before Girardi replaces him with Justin Wilson, who allows 3 more runs. Girardi replaces him with Martin, who allows another run. Baltimore Orioles 7, Yankees 5.

3 major screwups in a span of 6 days.

4. April 29. It's 2-1 Tampa Bay Rays in the top of the 6th. Michael Pineda has allowed 2 baserunners in the inning, but has thrown only 93 pitches. Girardi panics, and brings in Wilson. Wilson gets the next out, and the Yankees tie the game in the bottom of the 6th.

But Girardi replaces Wilson with Carpenter for the 7th, thus using a pitcher he didn't have to use. Dellin Betances pitches the 8th, Andrew Miller the 9th and the 10th, and now Carpenter isn't available. Martin pitches the 11th, and allows no runs. But Girardi replaces him with Chasen Shreve. He allows 2 runners in the 12th, and 3 for a run in the 13th. That was at least 2 pitchers too mny. Rays 3, Yankees 2 in 13 innings.

*

5. May 4. It's 1-0 Yankees over the Toronto Blue Jays in the bottom of the 8th. Chase Whitley pitched 7 shutout innings. He'd thrown only 90 pitches. But Girardi brought in Chris Martin. Jays 3, Yankees 1. This game is key, because it's the Jays that ended up as the team the Yankees chased for the American League Eastern Division title.

(UPDATE: Perhaps not as key as I thought it would be, as I thought, at this point, that the Yankees might lose the AL East by 1 game.)

6. May 19. It's 6-2 Yankees over the Washington Nationals in the bottom of the 5th. Nathan Eovaldi falls apart, and Girardi brings in Wilson, who stops the bleeding at 6-5. But, this being an Interleague game in a National League park, we're playing caveman baseball, with no designated hitter, and the pitcher has to bat, or else a pinch-hitter must be sent up.

Girardi pinch-hits for Wilson in the top of the 6th, and brings Carpenter in to pitch. Carpenter allows a tying home run. Girardi burns Shreve in the 7th, then uses Betances in the 8th and the 9th, and brings closer Miller in for the 10th, and he loses it. Nationals 8, Yankees 6 in 10 innings.

What difference would it have made it Girardi had let Wilson bat for himself? He certainly could have brought in a different pitcher in the 6th, or left Carpenter (despite the homer he allowed) instead of using Shreve to pitch to 1 batter in the 7th. This was 2 screwups in 1 game -- 2 screwups in 2 innings!

7. May 20. It's 2-2 with the Nats going into the bottom of the 7th. Adam Warren walks 2 batters. He's thrown 98 pitches. The pitcher's spot is not due up in the 8th. Girardi panics and pulls Warren anyway, and Wilson allows what turns out to be the winning run. Nationals 3, Yankees 2.

Major screwups on back-to-back days for the 2nd time in the season, 7 times overall, and we haven't even hit Memorial Day weekend yet.

*

8. June 10. It's 4-2 Yankees over the Nats in the top of the 8th. Eovaldi had thrown 97 pitches in 7 innings. This was at home, with the DH. He had retired 6 of his last 7 batters. He was not tiring. He was not injured. There was no rational reason to take him out.

But he allowed a leadoff single in the 8th, and Girardi panicked, and took him out, and brought in Jacob Lindgren. Lindgren got 2 outs, then allowed a game-tying homer. Girardi brought Wilson in for the 9th, and then brought in the horrendous Chris Capuano in for the 10th. Capuano got through the 10th all right. But Girardi left him in for the 11th (which wouldn't have been necessary if he'd let Eovaldi finish the 8th). Nationals 5, Yankees 4.

Moral of the story: Trust Nathan Eovaldi, but never, ever trust Chris Capuano.

9. June 23. It's 6-6 with the Philadelphia Phillies going into the 9th. Sabathia didn't get out of the 5th. But Girardi has already used Branden Pinder for 1 batter, Shreve for 3, and Wilson for 5. He brings Betances in with 1 out in the 8th, but keeps him in for the 9th. Girardi follows Joe Torre's "rule" that you never bring your closer in to pitch a tie game. A stupid "rule." This was a rare occasion when Girardi left a pitcher in too long, after leaving 3 pitchers in for too little. Phillies 11, Yankees 6.

*

10. July 7. It's 3-2 Yankees over the Oakland Athletics in the top of the 6th. Eovaldi has thrown 86 pitches. He gets the 1st out. Then Girardi inexplicably takes him out, and brings in Shreve, who gives up a game-tying homer.

Girardi uses Warren in the 7th, Wilson in the 8th, and Betances in the 9th. The game goes to extra innings, and Girardi keeps Betances in, instead of recognizing that Betances is only good for 1 inning, and Betances gives up a game-losing homer. A's 4, Yankees 3 in 10 innings.

10 screwups before the All-Star Break. On a pace for 20, just as I suggested.

11. July 30. It's 6-6 with the Rangers going to the bottom of the 9th. Sabathia did not have a good start. Girardi has already used Wilson for 4 batters, Betances for 7 (a blown save), and brought in Nick Goody to get the last out in the 8th. Instead of bringing in Miller for the 9th,Girardi leaves Goody in, and he walks the leadoff batter. That's when Girardi panics, and brings in Miller. Rangers 7, Yankees 6.

*

12. August 7. It's 1-1 in the 7th with the Blue Jays. Eovaldi has thrown 112 pitches, and the last 2 batters have reached base. But 1 of those was on an error. He is not visibly tiring. Girardi replaces him with Wilson. Okay, maybe that was justifiable, as Wilson then got a strikeout.

But then, instead of leaving him in to try to finish the inning, Girardi replaces him, with Betances. Betances, in the 7th? He walks a batter, but gets out of it. He has trouble in the 8th, but gets out of it. Miller gets into trouble in the 9th, but gets out of it. Girardi brings Pinder in to pitch the 10th. Never bring Branden Pinder in to pitch the 10th inning. Or any other inning. Home run. Jays 2, Yankees 1.

I don't want to hear that the Yankees weren't hitting and wouldn't have won anyway: This one is on Girardi.

13. August 11. It's 1-1 with the Cleveland Indians after 6. Rookie sensation Luis Severino has thrown 97 pitches and has been superb. Girardi replaces him. This game goes 16 innings, and Girardi uses Shreve in the 7th, Betances in the 8th, Wilson in the 9th, Miller in the 10th (blowing a save after the Yankees had scored 2 runs in the top of the inning), Warren in the 11th, and then Bryan Mitchell in the 12th, 13th and 14th. Mitchell threw 60 pitches in his 3 innings, not a lot for a "long man."

That's 7 pitchers, 5 of whom -- Severino, Shreve, Wilson, Warren and Mitchell -- each could have gone at least 1 more inning.

Girardi brings Pinder in to pitch the 15th, and leaves him in to pitch the 16th. Well, he should be your last resort, but, as the saying goes, Girardi checked into that resort anyway. Pinder blew the game in the 16th. Indians 2, Yankees 1.

I won't blame Girardi for bringing in Miller when he did, and, certainly, the team should have found a way to score at least 2 runs within 9 innings, let alone within 16, thus preventing Pinder from screwing up the bottom of the 16th. But Girardi blew this one 6 separate times. It was a Tuesday night, otherwise you could say he blew it "six ways to Sunday."

14. August 21. It's 4-3 Indians after 8. The Yankees have just closed it to within 1. We've got the Indians on the ropes. We can win this in the 9th, if only we don't allow any more runs. Girardi brings in Wilson. Indians 7, Yankees 3.

True, we were already losing, but we had a very good chance to win it. Considering how many games I could have counted, but didn't, I have no qualms with including this one.

Interlude. August 23. It's 3-3 with the Indians in the 8th. Girardi had sent Alex Rodriguez up to pinch-hit for catcher John Ryan Murphy. Then, Girardi, a lifelong Chicago Cubs fan who (aside from the Yankees from 1996 to 1999) spent his entire playing career in the NL (Cubs 1989-92 and 2000-02, Colorado Rockies 1993-95, St. Louis Cardinals 2003), and whose 1st managing job was in the NL (with the 2006 Florida Marlins), forgot that he's in the AL. He makes a double switch: He brings in Betances, and puts him in Murphy's spot in the order, and moves Brian McCann from DH to catcher, thus losing the DH.

Betances then gives the Indians the lead, but at least it was the right inning in which to pitch him, and it's still only 4-3 Indians. But now, we have 8 hitters in the lineup, not 9. That ends up not mattering, and the Indians do win 4-3.

I'm not including this as one of the games Girardi "blew" due to "pitching mismanagement." The game was lost mainly because Betances didn't get the job done on this occasion. But it shows just how bad a manager he's been this season. Seriously, if you can't even remember what League you're in, you shouldn't be managing in either major league.

*

15. September 8. It's 1-1 with the Orioles after 8. Masahiro Tanaka has been fantastic. He's thrown 104 pitches. Girardi relieves him anyway, with Shreve. His 3rd pitch: Game-losing home run. Orioles 2, Yankees 1.

16. September 9. It's 3-3 with the Orioles in the 8th. Sabathia had a bad start. Girardi replaces him with Warren, who does fine through the 7th. This time, Girardi blows it because he left a reliever in too long, and Warren allows a home run in the 8th. Girardi replaces him with Nick Rumbelow, who allows 2 walks and a ground-rule double in the 9th. Orioles 5, Yankees 3.

For the 3rd time in the season, Girardi's pitching mismanagement has thrown away games on back-to-back days.

17. September 12. It's 4-4 with the Blue Jays. Pineda had a rough 5th, but has gotten the 1st out in the 6th. He's thrown 98 pitches. At the very least, he should be allowed to finish the inning.

Not according to Joe Girardi's Binder. Girardi goes into musical chairs again, bringing in Wilson for 4 outs, Betances for 4, and Miller for 6. Both teams score in the 8th, and it goes to extra innings, 5-5. Girardi brings Mitchell in to pitch the 11th, and the Jays score 4 runs. Jays 9, Yankees 5.

3 screwups in the span of just 5 days. And this latest one was in a game we absolutely had to win, because it was against those pesky Blue Jays.

18. September 15. It's 3-2 over the Rays. Girardi had started Warren, but let him pitch only 4 innings, 65 pitches. Is Warren a baby?

Girardi let James Pazos pitch to 3 batters, then brought in Rumbelow, who blew the lead. Not that it mattered, but he then blew through Shreve, Pinder, Mitchell and Martin. Rays 6, Yankees 3.

4 screwups in the span of just 8 days.

*

4 games in April, 3 in May, 2 in June, 2 in July, 3 in August, 4 in September.

Total: 18.

I guessed that Girardi had blown 20 games with his pitching mismanagement -- that's only counting this season -- and I wasn't far off. And there's still time left to get the 19th and the 20th.

Think about it this way: If Girardi had blown "only" 14 of those games, and not the other 4, the Yankees would now be in 1st place by half a game.

If the Yankees don't at least advance to the American League Division Series, Girardi has to be fired.

Or, to put it another way: If the Yankees don't manage to overtake the Toronto Blue Jays for the AL East title, who do you want managing the Yankees in the Wild Card play-in game?

I don't know about you, but I don't want the guy who managed them in the 18 games mentioned above.

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