Rethinking Girardi’s ALCS bullpen approach


For 162 games this year, Joe Girardi had a fairly consistent bullpen approach. While the generally theory is to get the ball to Phil Hughes in the 8th and Mariano Rivera in the 9th, Joe had, through a series of mid-season auditions, figured out the best approach to the three or four outs in between the time when he removed his starting pitcher and when he brought in Hughes, and by the time early August rolled around, David Robertson had assumed the role.

Now, Robertson wasn’t given the role. He had to earn it. Early on in the season, Brian Bruney had that spot after losing the 8th to Phil Hughes, but Bruney couldn’t hold it down. After Bruney, the role was Alfredo Aceves‘ to lose, and after a shaky July brought about by some shoulder pain, Aceves lost it. It was then that David Robertson earned that position of trust, and he quickly emerged as the Yanks’ third best reliever.

On the season, Robertson had some pretty impressive numbers. He struck out 63 of the 191 batters he faced, good for a K/9 IP of 13.0. Although he walked 4.7 per 9 innings, by year’s end, he had reduced that walk rate. In the 7th, he was just as good. He faced 30 batters in the 7th inning — a small sample size for sure — but struck out 12 of them and allowed just two 7th inning runs. By most accounts, he was the Yanks’ third best reliever in 2009.

And then we have Joba Chamberlain. As we know, on the year, Joba was less than consistent and not as effective as we hoped. Sporting a lower velocity that many believe came about after his August 2008 shoulder injury and less control than we had seen in the past, Joba threw 157.1 to mixed results. He had a 4.75 ERA and a K/9 IP of just 7.6. His walk rate was up, and opponents hit .274/.363/.439 against him. By season’s end, no one really trusted him.

No one, that is, except Joe Girardi. When the playoffs rolled around, the Yanks announced that Joba would be in the bullpen, and we waited to see how Girardi would deploy Chamberlain. After watching the last few games, now we know: Joba Chamberlain will pitch before Phil Hughes in a spot customarily reserved for the team’s third best reliever.

Needless to say, Joba has disappointed. He has faced 12 batters this postseason and five of them have hits. His fastball still is topping out at around 95 and his control, as we saw yesterday, is non-existent. Robertson, meanwhile, has faced 14 batters this season and just two of them have hits. He has allowed two others to reach, but those were on intentional walks. He pitched out of a bases-loaded, no-out situation against the Twins in the ALDS and was invaluable against the Angels during the Game 2 marathon on Saturday night.

As Girardi has gotten too cute with his pitching changes, as, in the words of Mike, he makes the game of baseball look harder than it actually is, it’s time to go back to what worked. The Bridge to Mariano should remain David Robertson in the 7th — Phil Coke is a lefty pops up — and then Phil Hughes. That approach worked during the regular season and probably would have given the Yanks a 3-0 lead yesterday. Joba hasn’t earned anyone’s trust, and should not be pitching in key situations in a close ALCS.

* * *
As a postscript to Girardi’s approach last night: I know a lot of fans have bought the excuse that David Robertson did not match up well with Howie Kendrick. (For instance, see this defense of Girardi.) He still managed to overmanage though. If Robertson doesn’t match up well with Kendrick, then have D-Rob walk Kendrick to face Jeff Mathis, a batter who cannot handle a fastball for his life. Instead, in a tie game on the road, Girardi burned his best available reliever after all of 11 pitches. If Mathis still hits that game-winning blast, then fine. At least the Yanks go down with their best on the mound and not their 7th pitcher in 4.1 innings.


  1. TheZack says:

    Well, we all pretty much knew that Girardi would get seduced by Joba in the pen, didn’t we? We had these discussions when the ALDS rosters were announced. Its just too tempting for him, seeing Joba out there and remembering back to Joba of 2007. Of course, at least the B-Jobbers can’t really defend themselves anymore, not that its any consolation.

    Meanwhile, doesn’t it seem like Hinske would have been far more useful these past two games than Guzman?

  2. Mike HC says:

    I think you got your pulse on the team here. I could understand giving Joba the nod first, considering he was a pretty damn good reliever only one short year ago, and the year before that. But it is clear that Robertson should be getting the ball more. Evaluating the relative strength and ability of your players should not end at the regular season. If trends start to emerge during the playoffs, those should be taken into account as well, and as you (Ben) pointed out, this trend really had really become obvious months ago. I admit I was late to the David Robertson appreciation party, but I think it is time to get on.

    • Mike HC says:

      Just for future reference, does “having your pulse on the team” even make sense? Did I get the expression wrong? Or does the expression just not make that much sense? Any help here would be greatly appreciated.

      • Nady Nation says:

        Seems like the more proper phrasing would be “you’ve got a good grasp on the pulse of the team,” since it would be impossible for Ben’s pulse to have anything to do with the team’s overall outlook. This is assuming that you are in fact talking about the team’s pulse.

  3. Chris says:

    Since coming back off the DL, Robertson has 3K and 1BB in 5.2 IP. His regular season rate was 13 K/9 which would suggest that he should have 8K in that time. While he’s been effective, it’s not clear that he’s the same pitcher he was before the elbow issues.

    • 5.2 innings? You run into a major sample size problem evaluating anyone in that span. His stuff has appeared the same; he stayed in the game after a visit from the trainers following a bad landing on Saturday; and the Yanks wouldn’t be trotting him out there if he wasn’t healthy. Results-wise, he’s getting outs.

      • Chris says:

        Results-wise, he’s getting outs.

        Really? If you actually want to evaluate how someone will perform going forward, then you need to look at things they can control. Since pitchers have very little control over balls that are put into play, I value that information much less than things like strike-outs and walks and home runs.

        Robertson was great during the regular season because he struck out a ton of guys. Since coming back from his elbow issue, he hasn’t struck out a ton of guys. Did you know that before the injury this year, Robertson never had a stretch of 5+ innings with less than 4Ks? When a guy comes back from an injury and does something that he never did before the injury, I tend to think there might be something there.

        • kunaldo says:

          Even if he’s never had a stretch of 5+ IP w/ less than 4Ks, it’s still too small a sample size to determine anything

          Obviously, the type of outs a pitcher gets matters and does indeed help predict future success…but Krob isnt giving up a bunch of hits and walking everybody. He’s pitching well but he just hasnt got the expected # of K’s in 5.2 IP. I don’t see the concern here…

        • Regardless of all of that, which is definitely valid, it’s a 5.2 inning stretch. That is just way too small a sample size to determine that something is wrong with Robertson. If it continues into a large stretch next season, yeah, sure, let’s worry.

        • the artist formerly known as (sic) says:

          This is absurd.

          He could strike out the side in his next IP. Just as it would be inappropriate for me to conclude that his k/9 rate is now 27!!best eva!!!1, its equally foolish for you to draw conclusions about 5.2 IP.

          • Chris says:

            I would love to have a larger sample size, but we don’t. He was injured in September and came back for the last game or two. Based on what I can see, there may be a difference between Robertson in the regular season and Robertson now. Perhaps the Yankees see the same thing in his stuff and that’s why he’s moved down the hierarchy of the bullpen.

            • I would love to have a larger sample size, but we don’t

              That doesn’t mean we should jump to conclusions based on said SSS.

              • Chris says:

                So what evidence is there that Robertson came back as the same pitcher? Just because it’s a small sample size doesn’t mean you should discount it immediately, particularly when there was an event (in this case an injury and rehab) that could affect the small sample size since that event.

                • Because we’re all watching the game and seeing what and how Robertson is throwing. You pretty much can discount 5 innings over the same number of appearances in this instance. It is a statistically insignificant representation.

                • Sure, we shouldn’t discount it but we shouldn’t read as much into it as you are.

                  As for other evidence: is his velocity about the same as where it was? Is his curveball still breaking off nicely?

                • Chris says:

                  I’m not reading a lot into it. I’m suggesting that maybe there is some logic behind the Yankees moves. Maybe they see something different in Robertson (velocity and break certainly aren’t everything) that’s causing them to drop him below Joba on the depth chart. I’m just trying to look for evidence as to what that reason might be.

                  The question of Aceves vs Robertson to face Kendrick is a reasonable thing to blame on Girardi since it was a single decision in one game. As for Joba vs Robertson, they’ve been using Joba as the third reliever (i.e. just below Hughes/Mo on the depth chart) for the entire playoffs. If there were disagreement within the organization as to what Joba/Robertson’s roles should be, then there would be plenty of chances for Cashman or someone else to step in. Since Joba’s role hasn’t changed I’m assuming that never happened suggesting that this is an entire organization decision. When you look at decisions made by the whole organization, I have to believe that they have more and better information than I do, and I just have to find out what they’re looking at.

    • Dela G says:

      who cares, he gets outs. all i want is a reliever who gets outs consistently w/o giving up runs

      • Bo says:

        Use your eyes and common sense and get your head out of the stat sheet.

        No one in their right mind would say D-Rob hasnt been better than Joba. Clearly better.

    • kunaldo says:

      SSS much?

  4. Frank1979 says:

    Yeah I agree with you Ben, for all intensive purposes Robertson right now should be used as the Yankees’ third best reliever.

    I don’t know what was more frustrating last night, watching Girardi go to Joba before D-Rob again, or watching him pull D-Rob after getting 2 quick outs on only 11 pitches.

    • Mike HC says:

      Since I used a shaky expression above that I am not even sure makes sense, I can tell you with 100% certainty that the expression is not “intensive purposes,” but “intents and purposes.”

      • Frank1979 says:

        Hahaha, right…thanks. Sorry about that. Not that its an excuse, but its early and I’m also at work, so I was trying to type while paying attention to other things at the same time.

  5. Raf says:

    Posada calls all the pitches right? surprised that Girardi made the move for Aceves due to Kendrick’s ability to hit the fastball but Aceves only throws one offspeed pitch.

  6. Chris says:

    Walk the guy to put the winning run on base??? What? And isn’t Mathis(the guy that can’t handle the bat)3 for 6 with 3 doubles??? He may not be a great hitter but he is doing pretty good in this series.

    • So you’re so far making arguments to me based on five innings and 6 ABs. I’m going to stick with season totals and career trends. Those are far more representative samples.

      • Chris says:

        It’s two different commenters using the same handle. Although, I tend to agree that it’s a bad idea to walk a guy to put the winning run on base in the bottom of the 11th, regardless of who the next batter is.

        • Rebel Scum says:

          Unless that batter is Alex Rodriguez, Barry Bonds, or Albert Pujols.

          Or Howie “I hit .440 against the Yankees” Kendrick.

  7. Zack says:

    The rotation should be Drob-Hughes-Mo

    Isnt it funny that whenever Joba had a bad start all the b-jobbers flood the site, yet when hes bad out of the bullpen they disappear once again?

    • Mike HC says:

      They just claim that trying him as a starter could have ruined him for good. I have already heard the excuses first hand, not that I want to see Joba struggle in any role.

      • Zack says:

        Yeah you’ll hear/see that all day today, the Yankees ruind him.

        And that’s what I meant- b-jobbers want Joba to fail as a starter just so they can say they’re right, while we dont want Joba to fail in the pen this postseason

        • JackC says:

          I’ve never benn a B-jobber per se, but I also haven’t quite accepted that his moderatelt crappy starts as a starter should be ignored, either. I thinkhe has been a little better out of the pen, but that’s setting the bar awfully low; it’s more of a testament to how ineffective he was as a starter. I think he needs to be the # 4 guy out of the pen.

          • Bo says:

            Its common sense. Who would be better going multiple innings late if need be?

            The guy coming off a visit to Doc Andrews in Sept or Joba the starter?

            Thats why D-Rob goes in the 7th.

  8. TheZack says:

    Hey, don’t need the BP when your starter goes 8, right guys? Paging Mr. Sabathia…

    CC steps up, the bats maybe awaken just a tad, and a 3-1 series lead looks huge. If they were going to lose a game, that was the one to lose.

    Hopefully Sabathia cures Joe of, um, himself :)

    • Raf says:

      the bats waking up is what they really need. it’ll make the bullpen decisions easier when they’re up by 5 or 6 runs

    • Reggie C. says:

      i wouldnt be surprised to see Angels hitters take a more dilatory approach against CC. This guy is on 3 days rest , so his 100th pitch is likely NOT going to be anywhere as good as his 100th pitch 4 days ago.

      • TheZack says:

        Hey by all means let them. If CC is on, it won’t matter, he’ll just pour strikes in there. IF he is on, of course…

  9. Ace says:

    What happened to the 100 mph, strike everyone out who faces him Joba? Seriously.

  10. ledavidisrael says:

    Joba might not have had it last night. But he seemed to have it saturday. I don’t see why he was pulled so quickly in a tie game. I guess its because i m a believer in the hot hand theory. When a pitcher has it he should be milked and when the milk has gone bad he should be yanked quickly

  11. pollo says:

    Yea this seems like a no-brainer to me. Joba should have been shut down after 160 IP. His fat-ass should be d-o-n-e for the season.

  12. Will says:

    No one should be expecting Girardi to manage the game well…he hasn’t all season and he wont start now. The Yankees should be ashamed of trusting this talented collection of players to a manager like Girardi. They got away with it for much of the year, but it finally caught up and bit them. Now, if CC isn’t on his game, the Yankees will wind up with another ALCS collapse on their hands. It’s funny how things like that happen to managers who can’t run a game.

    • Mike HC says:

      Nobody can be right 100% of the time. Going with the hot hand, or playing by the cold hard percentages can both both work if you have the players. The Yanks have the players. Neither strategy will work every time. The bad move for Girardi here will be if he all of a sudden changes his managerial style in a knee jerk reaction, which I won’t think he will do. He may have to realize that Robertson is better than he is giving him credit for, which is a different story to me.

    • I probably shouldn’t bother wasting my time responding to something so blatantly trollish, but here goes. What’s your beef with Girardi? He’s done a very good job managing the team up until now, and he got a little too cute last night. It was, after all, just his sixth career playoff game as a manager.

      As for your “another ALCS collapse,” I’d hardly go that far. The Yanks have Sabathia pitching two of the next four games, and a 2-0 lead against a team as good as the Angels is hardly a sure thing. It’s not like they have a one-run lead in the 9th up 3 games to none. Some Yankee “fans” really can’t seem to let go of rooting against the team in the playoffs.

      • Will says:

        Dont bother responding then…I am not looking for your validation. Girardi has overmanaged with bunts, pinch runners, pitching changes, etc. all season. Only an extremely talented group was able to overshadow his awful game management. If you think he is a good manager, fine. I am not trying to convince you otherwise…I just wish Cashman would wake up to the reality (and really wish he would have done it sooner so the Yankees wouldn’t be saddled with a manager who is perhaps their biggest impediment to a championship).

        Like it or not, if the Yankees lose this series after being up 2 games to 0 and 3-0 in game 3, it will be a collapse. You can stick your head in the sand all you want, but you don’t have to be a pollyanna to be a “fan”. I am not seeking to define what a “fan” is anyway. I’ll leave that to those who feel threatened by opinions that are different from their own.

        • Who would you propose to manage then?

          What he did yesterday — between the pinch runners, defensive replacements and 7 pitching changes — was overmanaging. He doesn’t have a pattern of doing that during the regular season.

          • Will says:

            Give me a few months to interview candidates…I’d be looking for someone with the media/clubhouse skills of Torre, attention to detail of Showalter and tactical ability of Valentine. Is that pie in the sky? Perhaps, but that’s what the Yankees deserve. Maybe it doesn’t exist, but you wont find it by interviewing three candidates.

            Again, if you like Girardi’s management style, fine, but all season I have noticed him making the same mistakes. He has a very poor feel for running a ballgame…big and little things alike. It was only a matter of time before it manifested.

            • As good old Bobby V. He wouldn’t be an awful choice even if he is a bit of an attention whore.

              Anyway, apologies for impugning your fandom. I see where you’re coming from now that we’ve had enough of a discussion about it. I still disagree that Girardi has shown this tendencies during the regular season but they certainly manifested themselves last night. Ironically, the one time when he didn’t make a pitching last night — with Vlad up — it hurt him.

          • dre says:

            he “doesn’t have a pattern of doing that”?
            Are you Serious??? have you been watching at all this season? Overmangaging is his speciality!

      • kunaldo says:

        wait, Will wasnt being sarcastic/tounge-in-cheek?

    • Frank says:

      That’s a ridiculous argument. This team won 103 games. Too much is being made of yesterday’s decision to bring in Aceves for D-Rob. The fact of the matter is the offense has been horrible this entire series except for Jeter and A-Rod, and perhaps Matsui and Posada. They have been absolutely dreadful with RISP. Against a team like the Angels, you need to score when you get your chances.

      • ansky says:

        Bottom line stranding RISP is what’s really done us in. And no matter how confident we are there’s no way you survive the entire postseason like this. Just think back to all the first round exits from years past..the lack of the “big hit” is what did us in. This Angels team is too good for that. Bottom line is we couldnt sweep them during the season so why would you think we’d sweep them now??? Yanks just need to start hitting and the series is over…I mean if you’ve noticed the Angels cant put us away. Even if just Tex’s bat comes alive this thing is over in 5.

    • Simple Jack says:

      I agree with you 100% Will on all points. It is quite funny that some people think that their opinions carry more weight then others because they write a few paragraphs about the Yankees on a blog.
      The Yankees win in spite of Girardi not because of Girardi.

      • Mike HC says:

        Will claiming he “is not looking for his validation,” and you claiming Ben thinks his opinions carry more weight because he is a writer on the blog, is ridiculous. You guys are showing your own insecurities. At no point did Ben do anything other than strongly assert his own opinion at the expense of yours. I did not see him “throwing his weight around.”

      • But you think that your opinion carries more weight. But what is that based on?

  13. yankeegirl49 says:

    I love baseball…talented players get all the credit for the wins, but the manager gets all the blame for the losses, never mind that said talented players didn’t do their jobs.

  14. thurdonpaul says:

    we play today……

  15. matthaggs says:

    This isn’t about the bullpen, but it is about Girardi and his shaky managing. Sorry if it’s too off topic.

    On the basis that pinch running for Matsui late in the game is the right move, and on the basis that ARod is absolutely murdering the ball and there is a need now more than ever for him to see as many strikes as humanly possible, is there a downside I’m not seeing to flip flopping Tex and Arod in the batting order?

    More protection for Arod, maybe an extra at bat for ARod, and it’s much less likely that Tex will be pulled for a pinch runner.

    When Girardi runs for Matsui, he effectively takes both Matsui’s and Arod’s bat out of the lineup (unless an idiot closer is dumb enough to throw him a fastball with Gardner/Guzman/Hairston behind him).

    To make a long story short (too late?), let’s try to avoid pinch running for the guy behind Arod please.

    • Bronx Cheer says:

      Sign me up for this. I have been thinking the same thing. You can’t have Arod getting late at bats with the likes of Gardner, Fast Freddy, or Hairston “hitting” behind him.

    • MattG says:

      Pinch-running is a bad move in general, but thanks to the lore of Dave Roberts, pinch-running will always be around.

      Then, you look at a team like the Yankees, and you realize that pinch running is really a bad idea. Jeter hits singles, and I suppose Damon, too. Those are the only guys I would be worried about stealing in front of…and only if there are two outs.

      Leading off an inning? With Posada, Cano and Swisher due up? Although the double play is frightening, I have to play that one base-to-base, and keep Matsui’s bat in the lineup.

      I said it when we were talking about rosters. If the Yankees add speedsters, then they’ll have to use them, and it’s more likely to cost them a game than win them one.

    • Klemy says:

      Thank you! This has been one of my big hatreds int his series. I’ve been yelling at the TV every time Girardi pulls Matsui’s bat for a pinch runner. The obvious problem, as you’ve stated, is that Arod loses all his protection.

      If you’re going to routinely pull Matsui for a pinch runner, at least drop him a spot and put Posada behind Arod. We can’t send Arod up with no one behind him to make them pay for pitching around him.

      • Nady Nation says:

        I definitely agree with your sentiment. The only problem is, if Posada were to get on base in the late innings, HE would then be lifted for a PR. The pinch running has been a disaster.

  16. Cam says:

    All I know is that when Girardi decided to pull Pettitte last night, all I was thinking is I wanted to see Robertson. He’s gotten far bigger outs this postseason with the pressure situations he’s been in than Joba. Joba would probably be more useful deployed where Robertson was last night anyway, cause he can give you length if the game goes on. That being said, maybe it’s time for a lineup shakeup. Swish and Melky are like batting 2 pitchers right now. Swish doesn’t look like he knows what a baseball bat is for right now. And he’s not even working counts. Maybe it’s time to start Gardener and sit Melky. Or maybe sit Swish and start Gardener, go with the better defensive outfield. Keys to tonight IMO: 1. CC 2. Teix 3. Bottom of the order.

  17. steve s says:

    Overmanaging is too nice a phrase. I think panic managing (when there was no reason to panic) is a more apt description of what happened last night. I haven’t read every post so excuse me if I am repeating but in addition to the manic pitching moves, running Hairston out for Damon and losing the DH was frenzied and totally unnecessary (Hairston’s arm is mediocre at best and Girardi could have, alternatively, used Guzman and still maintained DH or, even better, should have pinch run Guzman instead of Gardner and then Gardner would have been available for defense later on). Letting Gardner run on an 0-1 count was a knee-jerk reaction to Gardner not attempting to run the night before. Hopefully Girardi is smart enough to realize how badly he did things last night and not try to manage the rest of the series in a way to “prove” he made correct moves yesterday otherwise we all will have good reason to panic.

  18. MattG says:

    Look, Girardi’s having a horrible series. He was awful in game 2, and out did himself in game 3. Yes, if the Yankees get a hit in a big spot, it doesn’t matter. But it’s terrible when your manager makes it harder to win, and a lot of what Girardi has done, has done just that.

    He has done some good, too. Rivera saved the game last night, albeit briefly. Kudos, Joe. But, in that fancy spiral binder you have, do you have a hit chart against Rivera? Because let me tell you, nobody hits fly balls to left field against him, and there was no reason to remove Damon’s bat from the game in that spot. That was the single stupidest thing Girardi did last night. There was a microscopic chance that Damon’s arm could hurt them in that spot, and an enormous chance his bat could help in the top half. Girardi had to accept those odds.

    Also, raise your hand if you knew Scioscia would pitch-out on 0-1. That was getting schooled!

    • RCK says:

      I think they thought Gardner could beat the pitch out. I guess.

      Basically I agree with your whole post. I’m just trying to figure out what in the hell is going through Girardi’s head because I am becoming more and more pissed off, and I figure trying to see his perspective might help. Although no luck so far.

      • I think they thought Gardner could beat the pitch out. I guess.

        To be fair, he has done this before.

        But, yeah, going on 0-1 was not a smart move. Whatever, though, Jorge hit the homer so that move doesn’t matter as much. It’s doubtful that Posada would’ve hit the homer had Gardner been on 2nd or events gone down differently.

      • larryf says:

        We can only hope the players like Girardi (truly) and will rally around him to win it IN SPITE of his decisions….

    • Will says:

      Dead on…you must not be a “real fan” either.

      Girardi’s poor decisions were not confined to last night or to only one move.

      Baseball is a very hard game…players, even talented ones, are going to fail. So, yes, it would be great if they were hitting with RISP. If that was the case, they wouldn’t even need a manager. The job of a manager, however, is to help the team win when everything isn’t going well. It’s not like Girardi has had nothing to work with. The Yankees have been getting good starting pitching and super efforts from Jeter and Arod. That’s enough to win if your manager doesn’t give the game away with several questionable decisions. On Saturday they overcame and last night they did not. Some might call it even, but I look at it as an opportunity lost because the Yankees deserve a manager who isn’t as bad as everyone else’s.

      • I agree with you that Girardi’s call to replace Robertson was bad but regardless, don’t you expect Aceves to be able to retire Jeff Mathis? I can see giving up the single to Kendrick, he’s a good contact hitter, but letting Mathis beat you is inexcusable. Was it Girardi who threw that pitch? No, it wasn’t; it was Aceves and he should get some of the blame.

        • MattG says:

          You know what though? From everything I’ve read and heard, Aceves is a iffy matchup versus the Angels, and Robertson is a good one.

          What the hell is in that binder, anyway?

          I am a fan of Joe Girardi. Now please, someone tell me where Scioscia is holding him, so we can get rid of this imposter.

          • No, I agree–Ace over D-Rob is wrong. But it’s Jeff Fucking Mathis. Aceves should be able to get him.

            • MattG says:

              But the game would still be tied, so it’s not just Mathis. It’s the three hitters behind Mathis, too, at the very least.

              And it doesn’t get better, because Gaudin won’t fare well against this team, either.

              If I am managing that team in that spot, I figure I need Robertson for 4 more outs. It’s my best chance to win the game. If any one match-up favors Aceves, then I’d better either ignore it, or put Robertson in left field! I bet that one’s coming tonight!

            • Klemy says:

              And if he can’t retire Mathis, who is he going to retire in this series?

        • Will says:

          Aceves’ use has been so varied and infrequent that I no longer know what to expect from him. Again though, the bottom line really is why would you remove a pitcher who has pitched so well without a compelling reason (and why remove Andy so early…and annoint Joba the 7th inning guy…and have such a quick hook with Hughes…etc.).

          Girardi has been burning through his bullpen all post season…just because he’s only been burnt once doesn’t make it the best strategy.

          Also, the pitching moves are only the tip of the iceberg. In these close games, he seems to neglect so many of the little attentions to details. A few examples:

          1) After Arod’s HR off Fuentes, you have a somewhat distracted team and a very speedy batter in Guzman. Why not have him attempt a drag bunt on a WET infield? Doesn’t that seem obvious? With the lineup gutted, that’s the time to try and manufacture a run.

          2) All season and on Saturday, Gardner has been a reluctant pinch runner. He has also proven to be not exactly the brighest guy on the bases. So, if you are going to remove Matsui there, why not go with Guzman. After Gardner defied Kelleher’s order to run on Saturday, I wouldn’t trust him in that situation. Also, once Gardner makes Jorge give up a strike, why would you not give him the red light on what no is an obvious pitch out count? Finally, why are you even playing for one run there anyway? In that spot, I want Jorge to work the count and get a ball to drive. The last thing the Yankees need is another 1st and 2nd situation for Cano, Swisher and Melky.

          3) Replacing Damon with Hairston and losing the DH was foolish. The chances of Hunter hitting a medium flyball to left off Mo couldn’t have been high enough to warrant taking a HR hitter out of the lineup. Once the mistake was made, however, why do you not use Guzman in the OF instead of Hairston. This way, you have Guzman in the two hole as a potential bunter if Jeter gets on base, or he could try to bunt his way on ahead of Tex and Arod.

          • Rose says:

            Aceves Home ERA is 1.61 in 50.1 innings while on the Road he has a 6.42 ERA in 33.2 innings. He’s also given up less hits (31) in those 50.1 innings at home than he has in the 33.2 innings on the Road (38). The WHIP differential is ridiculous too (0.815 @ Home to 1.337 on Road).

          • MattG says:

            Remove Andy early? Is that what people are saying?

            I was watching this game with my wife, who is continually amazed at my ability to predict baseball, and I told her they needed to get Pettitte out before Hunter. I was nicely surprised when Hunter popped up, but not at all surprised by Vlad’s dinger. Pettitte was laboring, his control was slipping, and he had made many about a dozen throws to first that don’t figure in pitch count, but can fatigue the arm more than a pitch (as they are pretty much are all shoulder).

            Honest truth–I would’ve had Robertson in the game in to pitch to Hunter yesterday.

            I am not on Girardi for this. Probably, Posada and Pettitte felt they had enough to get Hunter and Vlad. But I don’t understand any criticism that says he pulled Pettitte too soon. Having him pitch to Rivera, who’s only value is slugging vs left-handed pitching, was a huge risk.

            • Remove Andy early? Is that what people are saying?

              I think he means in Minnesota.

              • Will says:

                I was referring to Minnesota, but yesterday could apply as well. Andy has owned Torii Hunter (.664 OPS in 37 PAs), so you would absolutely leave him in there. Pettitte didn’t look like he was laboring at all, but he clearly made a mistake to Vlad. Still, he recovered to get Rivera and Morales and probably could have gotten through the 7th inning.

            • Klemy says:

              I had told my wife the same thing when he started pitching to Vlad. lol I had to leave the room to throw something out for a sec and I i was thinking, when I get back this is going to be tied. When I heard the audio form the other room, my heart sank.

          • Rose says:

            As for Gardner, I think running him on an 0-1 count was pretty dumb…why didn’t you run him on 0-0? Or gamble to even the count at 1-1? He’s certainly fast enough. 0-1, there’s a good chance of a pitch out against a team that runs and knows what they’re doing with it.

            As for the Damon/Hairston swap. I don’t think that was as bad a move as it was pinch hitting Cervelli for Rivera. If we’re up 3-0 in the series…it doesn’t matter as much if Rivera is available to close it out. There’s more of a gaurantee to win.

            I just didn’t like a lot of the decisions all around last night. Poorly managed in my eyes.

      • larryf says:

        Come back Billy Martin!!!

    • Kiersten says:

      I think taking Damon out in the 10th was the right thing to do. You can’t worry about the 11th when you have to get through the 10th first. You have to give your team the best chance to win at that moment. What hurt most there was not having Hinske on the roster.

      And yeah, Gardner running on an 0-1 pitch was STUPID.

      • MattG says:

        Nuh-uh. You can’t weaken your team while defending against the incredibly unlikely. Fly balls to left field, off the bat of right-handed hitters, is very unlikely against Rivera.

        But even if it were likely, the area of the field where the ball could be placed, which would mean a difference in Hairston’s and Damon’s throwing arms, is very small.

        And even if that space weren’t so small, and the difference in defensive value between Hairston and Damon were significant, it would need to be more significant than the difference between Damon and Cervelli at the plate, plus the possibility of having the a relief pitcher batting for himself in future innings.

        And, finally, lets say all that still doesn’t make it a bad idea–why wasn’t Hairston trotted out to replace Damon when Mathis was on second base? A single to left field ends the game there.

        But Girardi didn’t make the move until Mathis got to third. Explanation? Bad managing. Over-managing. The compulsive need to do something, even if its wrong.

      • larryf says:

        and not having Andy throw 2 cutters in the dirt against Vlad instead of a heart of the plate fastball (88 mph?) AFTER a conference on the mound was just awful….

  19. Raf says:

    i cant believe the Yankees have won 108 games so far this season with such a bad manager…
    Girardi made a mistake last night (imo) but lets not act like hes been doing that the whole season and the team managed to win regardless of his moves.

  20. leokitty says:

    My main issue with all of this is–I just don’t get how Robertson doesn’t “matchup” with Kendrick. His curve is far superior to Aceves’ and he has a good slider that he can bust out.

    If they were that worried about the the fastball he could have buried some curves and sliders in the dirt.

    • Chris says:

      Robertson is a fastball/curve pitcher (no slider) – your prototypical power pitcher. Aceves is a junkballer that throws everything. Kendrick has a 799 OPS against power pitchers and a 710 OPS against finesse pitchers. That spread is basically the difference between Nick Markakis and Vernon Wells.

      • Will says:

        That might be relevant if it was a one batter situation, but Kendrick (12 HRs off right handers in 1000 PAs) was not an immediate threat to end of the game.

      • Simple Jack says:

        That spread is basically the difference between Nick Markakis and Vernon Wells.

        Then the Yankees got beat by Wells. Oh no wait, even worse, Mathis.

  21. Rose says:

    I think everybody overestimated Joba because not only of his past accomplishments…but because he was able to get by against an anemic Twins line up…which he still didn’t look THAT great against. You saw him get the outs…you saw the velocity…so everybody assumed he was 2007 Joba Chamberlain.

    Robertson has shown all year he’s the #7 guy AND has shown in the playoffs that he can get the job done under pressure. It’s a no-brainer.

    As for Marte, he’s utterly useless right now. For whatever reason, Baseball-Reference.com didn’t count Abreu’s double that he over-ran, a hit. Aside from Game 2, he hasn’t gotten the job done…and Brian Bruney would be just as bad of an option against lefties as Marte has been.

  22. Giovanni says:

    If I have any beef with Girardi its over the following:

    1) Not giving Gardner a start. It seems like a no brainer to me to split the time between him and Cabrera unless one of them get hot.

    2) Pinch running for Matsui in the 7th two games in a row, in Game 3 it could have cost us a win (Matsui doesnt steal and Posada still hits his home run).

    3) Not having any faith in David Robertson.

    4) Having too much faith in Joba.

    5) Adding Guzman to the roster in place of Hinkse so you can have a speedster off the bench AND THEN never starting Gardner to take advantage of your second speedster.

    • 2) Pinch running for Matsui in the 7th two games in a row, in Game 3 it could have cost us a win (Matsui doesnt steal and Posada still hits his home run).

      Not necessarily.

      • Klemy says:

        Fallacy of the predetermined outcome alert!


      • Giovanni says:

        Not necessarily is right. Any number of things could have happened, like Posada walking and Cano hitting a three run homer. When I said “could have cost us a win” that meant it could have turned out where Posada still hit his home run.

        • Giovanni says:

          Oh, I forgot to mention thats only part of the point, my main issue is pinch runnign for your #5 hitter in the 7th inning of a close game. We’re lucky it didn’t come back to kill us on Saturday.

  23. Jerkface says:

    Coke gave up the double. Marte got out Figgins or whoever.

    And it does count as a hit. a Single.

    • Mode:Theif and Lair says:

      Hey Jerkface, it counts as a double since he rounded second.

      /I really didn’t want to respond, but just the ability to say “Hey Jerkface” without it being a bad thing was too much for me to stay away from.

  24. e mills says:

    I blame that soul patch under Joba’s lip. Also, when did the facial hair rules become so lax?

  25. jmas23 says:

    I think a big tilting point in the game was Joba. I know Kendrick is a fastball hitter, but a hanging slider to a fastball hitter is just as bad (as we all remember with Jim Leyritz against Mark Wohlers in 1996). Outta the pen Joba has been getting back to around 96. I’m tired of seeing our pitchers try to “trick” hitters, which in my opinion is just the way Posada calls a game. Especially on the first pitch, come right after Kendrick. Go with the high percentage first pitch strike, and try to jam him inside.

    Now, in defense of Posada I don’t know the whole story in this particular incident. Maybe Joba shook him off. Or maybe Girardi called the pitch from the dugout. But the whole Molina thing aside, he’s just not a great game manager. I think defensively he’s got skills, even despite the two pass balls in ALDS game 1. But in baseball, it’s often the intangibles that count. That’s why I love Cervelli. He’s never going to be an all-star, but he hustles his butt off behind the dish, really makes sure he gets down to block a breaking ball when Posada or Molina might try to scoop it. And that makes a difference. Burnett won’t be scared to throw that power hook when he knows Cervelli will block it. That builds confidence and lets the pitcher throw riskier pitches in key situations (like the Angels keep doing, breaking balls in fastball counts that our hitters continue to chase). Girardi always likes to point to the Minnesota series in May as the turning point of the season. Well, alot of that had to do with Cervelli and Kevin Cash.

    Now, I’m not saying that Cervelli should start, clearly he’s offensively inferior to Posada (although is a capable hitter and might be better than Molina). But I just want to point out 1) how important the catcher really is, and 2) how the intangibles can be the difference between a win and a loss in such close games.

    I’m sure someone has already pointed this out, but did Girardi mess up by going with Aceves? Yes. Robertson is a very underrated reliever and has been consistent the entire year, whereas Aceves has looked shaky recently and is having a hard time hitting his spots. But that didn’t decide the game. The Yankees hitters got nothing going in extras, or for most of the game. The homers are nice, but we need to find other ways to score. I love Gardner not only for his speed but because he’s a grinder at the plate. That hit-and-run in game 2 was a little thing that made a big difference (even though Guzman didn’t score). With Melky looking lost at the plate and badly out of position on Abreu’s double, I’d like to see him get in the lineup. At the very least it would light a fire under Melky. But with Kazmir today, 0% chance of that happening. Maybe game 5 with Lackey going. And hopefully, Sabathia has more of that short-rest magic that he used in Cleveland and Milwaukee.

    While yesterday made me nervous, especially about the offense, I’m encouraged about the way the pitching is shaping up if this series goes the distance. CC for game 4, Burnett for game 5, Pettitte for game 6, and CC on regular rest for game 7. Having the two lefties slated for games 6 & 7 has got to play to our advantage.

  26. Andy says:

    I am a big Girardi fan, in fact I wanted the Yanks to dump Torre and bring him, not Mattingly, in. But there is no defense of his STUPID, ASSINE move bringing in Aceves. Yankee Universe’s defense is retarded. Breaking down the numbers on percentage of fastballs thrown and Kendrick’s success with fastablls is EXACTLY what made the decision OVER MANAGING. The simple fact is that Robertson is a superior pitcher to Aceves. Therefore, in a tie game, you leave in the superior pitcher, especially when you know that in order to win you still need at least one more inning of relief work, and you have only one more guy left in the pen. It’s pretty damn simple. If Robertson had given up an 800 foot HR to Kendrick, I can virtually guarantee NO ONE would have questioned not bringing in Aceves, BECAUSE IT WOULDN’T HAVE MADE ANY SENSE.

    And if you want to more complicated, you’ll see that ON THE WHOLE, overthinking still reaches the conclusion that Robertson is better in this situation. Forget for a second that Robertson’s overall numbers, in the majors and in the minors, are far superior to Aceves’, and that he has much better stuff, and that he is much younger. Fact: Robertson throws a lot harder than Aceves. Fact: Robertson’s curveball is FAR superior to Aceves’ secondary stuff. Conclusion: Leave in the guy with the better fastball AND secondary stuff, and tell him to mix in a lot of curve balls, rather than have a guy with a lesser fastball come in just because he happens to GENERALLY mix it up more. Both are most likely going to have to throw a fastball, might as well make it the faster one with a lot more movement, and try to get him out with the superior breaking ball. Common sense.

    Bottom line is the move was TERRIBLE in just about every conceiveable way – so bad even the Fox announcers smelled it’s badness a mile away. I love Joe, but he made a bad move. Period.

    • MattG says:

      And worse than just this one move, it is a trend of over-managing. Removing Damon from the game, pinch-running for Matsui, reluctance to start Gardner so he can have the option of pinch-running, using Marte, whom he knew he would not send back out after an inning change, when Coke was available, getting cute with Joba when Hughes is available, and so forth.

      This series is very black and white to me. Coke gets Figgins and Abreu in the sixth or seventh, Robertson gets everybody else. If Robertson’s already used, Hughes gets the rest of the 7th, and Rivera and Hughes handle the 8th and 9th.

      If they had followed that plan last night, Robertson pitches to Vlad in the sixth, Coke probably creates a little mess in the 7th, but Hughes cleans it up, and Rivera shuts it down.

  27. Pat says:

    Anyone see Mo spitting on the ball yet? We’ll be hearing about it (a lot) very soon.


    • e mills says:

      I need another camera angle…

    • Will says:

      It’s silly…the camera angle is so poor that you can’t tell what he is doing. He could just be spitting on the ground. Besides, if a pitcher wants to get saliva on the ball, all he has to do is load up into his hand (pretend you are coughing) and then lather it on. Spitting directly on the ball would seem to be the least effective way to do it.

  28. jmas23 says:

    It’s unfortunate, but you’re right it is going to garner alot of attention. Especially when half the pitchers in the league have pine tar on their hat that they touch before every pitch. Pavano to name one, even when he was a Yankee.

  29. Will says:

    By the way, if Girardi didn’t want to see Kendrick against Robertson, why did he bring Joba in to face him? Isn’t Joba a power guy too? Maybe what happened is Girardi allowed his mistake in the 7th inning to lead him to making another later in the game? That’s exactly the kind of unsure, panic managing that loses post season games.

  30. Rose says:

    The bottom line is, we have to start hitting better. It hasn’t been that great even in the ALDS against the mediocre Twins pitching. The reason we’re even up 2-1 right now is because of our stellar pitching. Though, unfortunately yesterday we realized that even very GOOD pitching isn’t good enough. Anything less than stellar pitching will result in a loss if we keep hitting the way we have been.

    Aside from Jeter, Matsui and Posada…the batting averages are pretty bad. Teixeira’s .077/.250/.077 line for the ALCS or even .120/.241/.240 line for the entire post-season isn’t helping in the 3 hole at all. Damon’s batting .214 in the 2 hole, Melky and Cano are batting .200 a piece, Swisher’s patience has disappeared with a .208 OBP for the entire post season…

    It just seems that every OTHER guy seems to be getting hits or on base. Jeter is hitting alright, Damon and Tex aren’t. Arod, Matsui, and Posada are hitting…but not together most of the time. Johnny Damon and Mark Teixeira COMBINE for TWO RBI’s in the entire post season thus far.

    This just ain’t going to cut it.

    If it continues like this it’s going to come down to pitching…and unfortunately, the Angels have MUCH more pitching depth than we do.

  31. All praise be to Mo says:

    I was at the game yesterday and you can see the players in the field getting tired of Girardi’s overmanaging. It seemed like almost after every batter he was coming out and you could see the players just slumping their shoulders and not into the game due to this. I mean, why bring in Marte for 1 pitch and replace him with another lefty to face Abreu? Why pinch hit for Mo and let Cervelli who hasn’t had an at-bat in god knows how long hit in that spot? Give up the out, let Mo finish off the bottom of the order next and the you have 3-4-5 up in the top of the next inning. God forbid someone else would have to close out a game like D-Rob could have in that situation. It’s the post season Joe, Mo can last more than 17 pitches and pitch the next day since there seems to be an off day after just about every game…

  32. Girardi out to the mound says:

    A lot of people are defending Girardi b/c he got us here and the Yankees had 103 wins.

    The problem with that though, is while Joe did tend to overmanage a bit at times during the regular season he has gone crazy in the postseason.

    This is not the same Joe Girardi that we saw at all during the regular season. During the regular season you had to earn your spot in the bullpen (Joba), he trusted his veteran pitchers (going out to the mound in the middle of an at bat), and inferior pitchers were not brought in b/c guys like Howie Kendrick can handle a fastball.

    The games have become tedious to watch with Girardi trying to control every single pitch of every single game. Well Joe, this is a 103 win team. Let them play.

    Basically what I am saying is while Joe Girardi got us here, a new manager has surfaced in the postseason.

  33. pete says:

    agreed. I don’t get why, with the league’s worst offensive player on deck and the yanks’ 2nd (maybe 1st) most reliable reliever this postseason on the bump, Girardi felt the necessity to play matchups w/ kendrick at all. Not saying IBB him, just saying throw him junk (Robertson’s curve was absolutely filthy yesterday, as per uzhe) and nothing good to hit, then let robertson tool all over mathis. Not saying what happened was a likely outcome based on what Girardi did – it clearly wasn’t: Aceves has been an excellent reliever all year, and was the better choice in terms of likelihood of getting kendrick out, and when mathis came up, he still had about a 15% chance of getting an extra-base hit to win the game, which most would agree favors the yanks.
    But Ace hasn’t pitched much recently, and has been shaky when he has. There was no need to prioritize kendrick’s out, when mathis was due up, unless you’re playing for the outs of next inning (which would be utterly retarded).
    Of course, if Robertson had pitched the 7th instead of Joba (or Pettitte didn’t throw that effing meatball 0-2 to Vladdy), then they game wouldn’t have even needed to go into extras. Whatever though, confidence level still = 27. CC gets 2 more starts (and AJ and Andy get another apiece) in this series if necessary, I like our chances of winning 2 of the next four games. I will say that both hughes and robertson must have been happy to leave the cold weather – their curveballs were insanely awesome yesterday.

  34. danny says:

    i just dont understand girardi’s logic, okay maybe in the beginning like in the ALDS he wanted to still be a little careful with robertson so he used joba in the 7th but whats his excuse now? K-rob should be the 7th inning man and there shouldnt even be a debate about. maybe we would have won, maybe if the hitters woke up and hit a sac fly every now and then we would have won also.

  35. dre says:

    this Argument that Joe Girardi is a good manager because we had 103 wins and are in the ALCS need to stop. Going by that logic
    then the manager of the 2003 redsox who went all the way to game 7 of the ALCS should also be good right?
    Grady Little was fired the year after for his suckitude.

    both teams won in spite of thier managers. (i’m not saying Girardi is as bad as Little but if he doesn’t stop overmanaging….)

  36. yankee1977 says:

    Joba is clearly not the same guy before his injury this year. His pre-injury career he was topping out at 98-99 and touching 100+ in the pen or as a starter. He has clearly lost 3-4 mph in either role this year. You would think by inserting Joba in the pen, he would be topping out like he has in the old days but he obviously hasn’t. Despite touching 96 here and there. 97 -98 mph would be the old joba to be effective. I’m a big fan of him and pulling for him, but since he is not himself and hopefully next year the Joba we all know will return to form. The Yankees should move D rob above him in the pecking order this post season. Hopefully the Yanks can make it 3-1 againts the angels tonite.

  37. Bo says:

    It’s not like no one saw this coming. It was obvious to anyone who paid attention that Girardi was going to cost us at least a game and maybe more.

    God help us in the WS with NL rules.

  38. mustang says:

    One of things that bother me about Girardi last night was watching him referring to the charts like a junkie looking for a fix.
    I mean if your going to let the charts dictate every move then what’s the point of having a manager. I think there is a lot to be said about having a feel for the game and evaluating your player’s performance accordingly.

  39. dkidd says:

    i love how joe managed the bullpen during the season: getting everyone work, not banishing someone after one bad outing, etc. there’s an ebb and flow to a 162 game season, i.e. guys will go through stretches where they are ineffective and have to pitch through it.

    there’s no ebb and flow to the playoffs. you lose and you go home. imho, the “going with the guys that got you there” approach is wrongheaded. ride the hot arms until they fall off

    for the remainder of the postseason, in high leverage situations, the only pitchers i want to see are robertson/hughes/mo (and marte as a loogy)

    that being said, i understood the aceves move more than the “pull marte after 1 pitch for another lefty” move

  40. mustang says:

    “We’re trying to win and whatever it takes to win,” catcher Jorge Posada said of Girardi’s moves. “He’s not just going with a hot hand or a guy who’s pitching good. He’s just trying to win the game.

    Can someone please explain this statement to me because I just don’t understand it.

    Going with a hot hand or a guy who’s pitching good doesn’t that give you the best chance to win the game?

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