Anyone reading this post of mine should first read Joe’s very thorough and level-headed recap of last night’s Yankee disaster. While I was busy cursing at the TV and calling for Joe Girardi’s head, Joe managed to talk me down.
That is, until Joe Girardi dared to rationalize his decision to have Mariano Rivera. Kim Jones asked him if he considered using Rivera, and Girardi replied: “I was going to if the situation arose, but the situation did not arise.” Rivera, by the way, is still sitting in the Fenway bullpen, waiting for the situation to arise.
Later, Girardi said that he would have used Rivera for four outs but not five or six. To me, that makes no sense. Rivera would have thrown an extra seven or eight pitches to get outs five and six. Once he enters the game for a save longer than one inning, he has to warm up twice anyway. So the Yanks should maximize the outs they get for him. (Related: I dread the day Mariano Rivera isn’t around. It’s coming up on us rather quickly.)
Anyway, after the game, my sister and I were having it out on G-Chat, and apparently, she too could manage the Yanks. Victoria said:
I wanted Rivera to pitch 6 outs immediately when there were two on and no out. Obviously, Rivera…It was SO. OBVIOUS. It really disturbs me that i keep thinking of the obvious things to do that aren’t done. I’m a stupid little girl. No one’s even telling me. I’m thinking of them all by myself. I really should manage the team!!!! Or, like, someone’s senile grandmother.
Someone’s senile grandmother indeed.
Our half-jokes aside, this problem stretches back beyond Joe Girardi’s unwillingness to learn from his previous high leverage mistakes. When push came to shove tonight, when CC Sabathia was at 120 pitches, when the game was on the line, the Yankees had no one in the bullpen outside of Mo upon whom they could rely to get outs. Gone are the days of Graeme Lloyd, Jeff Nelson, Mike Stanton or even Steve Karsay and, yes, Tom Gordon. If the starters don’t go eight, the Yankees have to hold their collective breaths and pray for the best.
Last night, the game was Al Aceves’ to lose. He was tossed into a no-win situation and walked away with, well, no win. Phil Coke helped out as well. Tonight against the Mets, it might be Jose Veras’ turn to inherit some less-than-optimal situation or maybe David Robertson and Brett Tomko get the call. I’m not inspiring too much confidence, right?
The Yankees of course don’t want to be in this position. The best laid plans had Brian Bruney and Damaso Marte splitting the eighth inning/set-up duties. Both have missed most of the last six weeks. While Bruney should be back next week, Marte is still a few weeks away, and we don’t know how effective he’ll be. Even just getting back one would be enough. With Bruney, last night’s game takes on a completely different tone when Sabathia leaves.
But outside of Bruney, the Yankees need bullpen help. Last month, Joe pondered the potential relief help. He examined Chad Qualls, Jose Valverde, Huston Street and Russ Springer. Today, Ken Rosenthal says those are exactly the names under consideration by the Yankee brass, and officials have already expressed interest in Huston Street.
It never makes sense to give up much for a reliever. They break down; they lose their ability to get outs; they are replaceable. But the Yankees’ relief corps need some relief right now. With the draft behind us and the trade deadline seven weeks away, the Yankees will kick the tires on a whole bunch of relievers. Who wins Yankee Bullpen Roulette is anyone’s guess, but it better be someone who can throw strikes and get outs. For better or, in my opinion, for worse, Rivera won’t be in for those six-out saves the Yankees need so desperately.