How would the Yankees use the double switch?


For the first time since June, the Yankees will be without the benefit of the designated hitter, a big part of their offense. That role has been Hideki Matsui‘s this year, and he performed admirably, posting a .274/.367/.509 line across 526 plate appearances. He didn’t play an inning of outfield all season, though, bringing into question his role for the next three games.

It appears that Girardi has ruled out the possibility of starting Matsui in the outfielld. Carig reports that Matsui could play the outfield in a double switch situation, which would place him in the outfield for the first time since June 15, 2008. Yet there seems to be only one scenario where a double switch would make any sense.

The double switch involves a manager substituting a position player for the pitcher, and a pitcher for a position player. This only works if 1) the pitcher’s spot is due up in the next inning, and 2) the position player leaving the game isn’t due up before the pitcher’s spot. This creates a problem for the Yankees, because their lineup will probably look like this:

1. Jeter
2. Damon
3. Teixeira
4. Rodriguez
5. Posada
6. Cano
7. Cabrera
8. Swisher
9. Pitcher

Cabrera and Swisher at the bottom of that lineup make the double switch tough when it involves Matsui. If, say, Cano makes the last out, the pitcher would be due up but two of the double switch candidates are due up first. All Girardi could do at that point is to sub the relief pitcher for Johnny Damon, which staves off the pitcher’s spot by only two batters. If the Yanks put two men on base in the next inning, the pitcher comes up any way and you’ve just pointlessly lost Damon’s bat.

If Cabrera makes the last out it creates another tough situation. In a double switch the pitcher would come in for Cabrera, meaning the substitution would have to play center field — no way that Swisher or Damon does at this point. That means Gardner, who would hit after Swisher to start the inning. Unless you absolutely needed the reliever for multiple innings, wouldn’t it just make sense to pinch hit Matsui in the nine spot and call on another pitcher for the next inning?

It could make sense if Swisher makes the last out of the inning. Matsui would then sub for the pitcher and take over in right field. He would also lead off the next inning. But in that scenario, if the game is close, Girardi would probably pinch run Gardner for Matsui if he got on. At that point he’d be better off just pinch hitting with Matsui, since the move commits to less. Then if Damon makes the last out of that inning, you could insert Hideki into left and leave the pitcher in the two hole. You could do that in the double switch scenario too, I suppose.

Going through double switch situations is something new for us fans of AL teams, and it’s certainly an exercise. The problem in doing this is that to double switch with Matsui would hamper the defense. Straight pinch hitting assignments could work better, unless there’s a serious lineup alignment issue. Then, and only then, should Girardi double switch. If he doesn’t need the reliever for multiple innings, straight pinch hitting is the way to go.

The one scenario I can see this working is in a straight pinch hitting situation. If Matsui pinch hits for the pitcher and Damon makes the final out of that inning, Girardi could send Matsui out to left and insert the new pitcher into the two spot.

I’m sure I’ve missed a few scenarios (and might have even botched some). This is where I love the comments.

Categories : Analysis


  1. Free Mike Vick says:

    How bout we pull a La Russa and let the pitcher hit 8 and melky bat 9.




  3. Jason says:

    Gerardi had a year with the marlins and will be able to use it effectively if necessary. Because the line-up is so deep, it may not be needed. Also keep mind that if there is a pinch runner situation, that could change everything.

  4. themgmt says:

    The interesting move would be to start Matsui in LF, Damon in CF, Melky in RF. Then when he went to hit for the pitcher, use Swisher.. then double switch with Matsui.

    Matsui gets his two ABs and plays defense in the first 4 innings instead of late in the game.

    Damon Melky Swisher play the middle innings defensively.

    Then when you pinch hit for the pitcher again, pull Damon for Gardner.

  5. nathan says:

    Check this out


    “The objective is to get it right, we asked each other what we had seen and the replay confirmed we got it right,” crew chief Jerry Davis said, according to the New York Post.

    He is talking about the Howard trapped play.. the replay confirmed what?

    i am now convinced, they dont need no stinkin replay they need a re-evaluation of umps.. these are the 6 best clowns they can find.. excusme while i go vommit

    • TheLastClown says:

      There’s no claim that “these are the 6 best they can find.”


      The umps are privately contracted. MLB does not train them.

      They do not have a meritocratic system for selecting playoff umpires.

      • nathan says:

        MLB crowed that all umps are expereinced WS umps.. they did nto state the 6 best… but dont u have to assume the 6 best were chosen .. after all its the WS… i did read somewhere they were all in top 10 ratings wise

        • TheLastClown says:

          The point is, the ratings system is archaic at best.

          And no, you can’t assume that they’re the 6 best.

          You can’t even assume, under the current auspices, that ANY of the MLB umpires are worthy of the job that they have.

          It’s like training someone in phrenology & calling them a psychologist.

          • tim randle says:

            i was a phlebotomist in college…not really germane, but i’d like to be an umpire someday–just like high school or AA would be cool…

    • henry frisch says:

      Can they explain why Howard threw to second if he caught the ball in the air when all he would have needed to do was step on first to double Posada off?

      They admit they blew the bang bang play hit by Utley. The fact that they can view the tape of the Damon/Posada “double play” and call it correct is totally shocking. If they can’t man up it is far worse than just making big time blunders.

    • Dude, we had a thread this morning about replay. This is about double switching in Philadelphia.

  6. Jeter: Personally, I’m all for double switching. I love it. I think we should do it every night. It’s one of my favorite parts of the game.
    (Burnett leans over and whispers in his ear)
    Jeter: Oh, that’s what it means? Meh, big deal, nevermind. I don’t care about that. Whatevs.

    … aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand, SCENE!

  7. nathan says:

    Yankee fans are accused …


    we are tame and civil… KenRosentahl maybe is trying for a few hits to his article

    has he asked one non-negative qn to a Yankee after a victory…

  8. Glen L says:

    The only situation where it would make any sense for the yankees, with a deep (if recently slightly scary) bullpen, to use the double switch would be to keep Mo in for another inning

  9. Count Zero says:

    I don’t want to see Matsui in the OF…at all…ever. Even for just one inning. That is the kind of situation Murphy’s Law pounces on every time.

    Double switch with Hinske or Hairston…maybe even Grit Gritner in the right situation. Matsui is strictly a PH for the next three. It hurts, but it has to be.

    • Agreed.

      Matsui gets one pinch hit AB each game. That’s it.

    • toad says:

      I could see risking it in one particular situation. You’re enough behind that you really want Matsui to get two PA’s, and you have a good chance to do that with him only playing one inning in LF.

      You’ll still have to PH for the pitcher, so I guess the defensive risk buys you two Matsui PA’s and one Hinske/Hairston, instead of the other way around. Is that worth it, three or four runs down late?

    • JackC says:

      I believe the correct quote in this context is “Daniel Murphy’s Law”

  10. e mills says:

    the double-switch may have to wait as the weather doesn’t look like it plans on cooperating tomorrow night. Furthermore, if the weather does not cooperate, Lee will probably be pitching game 4.

  11. SM says:

    I think we have enough quality relievers that the point should be moot or close enough. I see very little advantage in the ability to have a reliever out there longer if it means Matsui in the field.

  12. dkidd says:

    i don’t think there’s any way matsui plays the field, but i could see joe double switching to keep a dominating hughes or mo in the game for another inning

    random and possibly off-topic factoid: buck showalter found it was easier to manage in the national league because when to remove the starter is often determined by when he’s due to hit (although someone like cc makes that a bit more complicated)

  13. Peedlum says:

    How is it that I managed to take logic in college, take the LSAT, go to law school which requires the application of logic, take the CA bar which requires you to sometimes apply the opposite of logic and sometimes apply logic, practice law for almost a decade which makes you into an intellectual chameleon and the concept of the double switch still escapes my understanding? I wish I’d had a class in this at Harry B. Thompson Middle School instead of having Home Economics with Mrs. Last where I sewed a koala bear and made french toast.

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