How to manage the bullpen without really tryingBy
I too would like to keep Brian Bruney an arm’s length away from pitching ever again for the Yanks. (Photo courtesy of Bombers Beat)
On the one hand, it’s hard to get too worked up over last night’s loss. On a night when the Yanks’ pitching staff hands out 11 walks and Kei Igawa throws the ugliest five shut-out innings you’ll ever see, it’s tough to expect a loss.
Furthermore, the Yanks, in need of just one win to clinch a postseason berth, will record that victory before the season is out. And seeing Alex Rodriguez crush a grand slam is a comforting thought for those of us a bit worried by his recent dearth of power.
But on the other hand, haven’t we seen this before? A Yanks starter struggles through five innings with the lead, and Joe Torre cannot once again put together a good combination of relievers to hold a five-run lead for four innings.
This game hinged on the decision to bring in Brian Bruney to pitch out of a jam. Now, a few months ago, Mariano Rivera called out Bruney, and the Yanks responded in turn by sending Bruney to work on his pitching at AAA. Bruney whined about the demotion, struggled in AAA, didn’t improve and somehow landed back in the Bronx as a supposedly vital cog in the Yanks’ pen.
Has Joe Torre forgotten that Bruney, the model of inconsistency earlier this year, hasn’t gotten better? In fact, Bruney has now cost the Yankees two of their last three losses. The story gets worse though. In his last 8 appearances since returning the Bronx in late August, Bruney has thrown 7.2 innings, giving up 10 runs on 8 hits (3 HR) and 7 walks. With Chris Britton, Ross Ohlendorf and even Ron Villone in the pen, calling upon Bruney to pitch out of a jam when he can’t buy a strike is a fairly egregious lack of judgment on Torre’s part.
But of course, we can’t place all of the blame on the arm of Brian Bruney. Edwar Ramirez has hardly been stellar lately, and I’m beginning to think that this one-trick pony can’t cut quite cut it in the Bigs. There is, after all, a reason why Ramirez was dropped not once but twice by the Angels.
Ramirez, over his last 10 appearances spanning over three weeks and 8.0 innings pitched, has given up 13 hits and 11 ER while walking just 4 and striking out 12. Just one of those strikes out have come over his last 4 appearances. Supposedly, Ramirez has a mechanical flaw in his delivery, and after throwing 75 innings this year, he could just be out of gas.
In the end, this all boils down, once again, to bullpen management choices. Ramirez is out of gas and struggling; Bruney hasn’t put it together at all. At some point, Joe Torre simply has to turn to guys who can get out. These two aren’t the ones for that role, and it cost the Yankees the game last night and any lingering chances they had to win the division. But, hey, at least we won’t have to see Bruney pitch in the postseason.