Jul
20

Using Boone Logan properly

By

(AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Last night Boone Logan did part of his job, the big part of his job, well. He came into a high-leverage situation and got what should have been a bunch of outs, but thanks to the stadium, and his own poor reaction time, the Rays squeaked across two runs and took the lead. Logan was clearly responsible for the botched comebacker, though he did induce poor contact on the play. In terms of pure pitching, though, there are no complaints, despite him facing two right-handed batters.

Logan vs. righties

It’s no secret that Logan, like most lefty relievers, is more effective against same-handed batters. He has faced 448 lefties in his career and has held them to a .249/.324/.364 line, while righties have hit .313/.390/.486 against him. While there are certain lefty relievers, such as the Cubs’ Sean Marshall, who can handle full innings of work, Logan, with nearly 200 innings of career work, has clearly defined himself as a left-hand only kinda guy. Why, then, was he facing right-handed hitters?

No platoon advantage

There is a surefire way for managers to make his opponent pay for bringing in a LOOGY. Since the rules dictate that any pitcher brought into the game must face at least one batter, the manager can pinch-hit for his lefty, thus turning the platoon advantage in his favor. Joe Maddon did just that last night, not only with Sam Fuld, but also with the next batter due up, Reid Brignac. In fact, it was an utterly predictable move. Neither Fuld nor Brignac is a good hitter, and Maddon has been known to maneuver like this in the past.

With two weak hitters due up, why didn’t Girardi go to Cory Wade instead? He wouldn’t provide a platoon advantage, but he doesn’t have a significant career lefty/rigthy split. Girardi could have used him against the two lefties and then saved Logan for Johnny Damon, who is a far greater threat than the two batters before him. That makes enough sense, and it very well might have been the right move. But it certainly wasn’t the only move.

LOOGYs facing righties

Girardi knew that Maddon’s bench was bare. When Logan was announced, Maddon sent up Justin Ruggiano, a 29-year-old with a career .233/.269/.381 line. In place of Brignac he sent up Elliot Johnson, a career .194/.252/.317 hitter. So while he negated the lefty-lefty matchup, he also sent up two horrible hitters. Even someone like Logan should be able to retire these guys (which he essentially did). It’s not as though it were Evan Longoria up there.

Because of the one-batter minimum, this is a situation LOOGYs face often. They’ll come into the game set to face a lefty, and the opposing manager will pinch-hit. But, because he’s pinch hitting from his bench, chances are the replacement is not as good as the original hitter. A good manager will consider his opponent’s bench before bringing in a LOOGY, to make certain that he’s not running into a regular starter who had the night off. I can’t say for certain that Girardi did that, but I’d bet that he did.

It is part of a LOOGY’s job, then, to face right-handed bench players. It’s unreasonable to ask them to face righties and switch batters who normally hit near the middle of the order. That’s asking for trouble. But I find it difficult to complain when the opposing manager gains the platoon advantage by pinch-hitting two guys who have terrible MLB track records. A LOOGY has to be able to retire guys like that. And, again, Logan essentially did.

Using Logan against righties

If pitchers like Logan have to face righties, they might as well face slap-hitting righties with poor MLB track records. That’s exactly what Logan faced last night. In fact, it appears that’s the type of righty he’s faced for the most part this year. Despite his pitching in a few mop-up situations, he’s still faced just 39 righties to 68 lefties, and has held them to a .200/.272/.200 line. That is, he’s allowed zero extra base hits and only seven hits overall to right-handed hitters.

His success is largely a product of luck; he’s shown an inability in the past to retire righties, and we shouldn’t think that just because he’s fared well in these 39 instances that he’s all the sudden cured. But as I look at Logan’s play log I see a bunch of poor-hitting righties: Derrek Lee, Mike McCoy, Yorvit Torrealba, Franklin Gutierrez, Orlando Cabrera, and Aaron Hill. Most of the better righties he’s faced, such as Kevin Youkilis and Miguel Cabrera, have come during garbage time, when the Yanks were either up or down big.

It’s certainly possible, then, that Girardi is putting Logan in a position to succeed. Again, he’s faced just 39 righties this year in 107 total chances, or 37 percent. Last year it was 78 of 169, or 46 percent. You can learn a lot about a guy in a year, and it appears that Girardi has learned not only to limit his usage against righties, but also limit it to poor-hitting righties.

While in an ideal world Logan would never face a righty, it’s simply a reality of the game. Thankfully, Girardi has placed him in situations this year that favor him. When he does face a righty, it is, for the most part, a poor hitting one. When he faces a quality one, it has come in mop-up duty. Last night was a further example of that. The Yanks lost the lead, due in no small part to Logan’s poor reaction time, but he did pitch well against light-hitting righties. It’s something that can be expected of him, even as a LOOGY.

Categories : Death by Bullpen

60 Comments»

    • Mike Myers says:

      I was gonna say, send him out to fight Pedroia in the next series and get both players suspended. Win Win for us!

  1. CP says:

    Since June 22 when Logan dropped his arm angle, he has a 2.25 ERA, 12K, and 1BB in 8IP. He’s given up 1 HR and has a .278 BABIP in that time, so it’s not completely luck.

  2. Mike Myers says:

    “Using Boone Logan properly”

    A: Send him to AAA

  3. YankeesJunkie says:

    Logan’s career FIP against left handed batters is 3.4 with only 2010 being a superlative year when was at 1.8. Logan’s performance against lefties while certainly better than against right handed batters (5.58 FIP) does not justify his use as someone to specialize getting left handed batters out in addition to his atrocious pitching to right handed batters. Basically the only time that Logan is the best option out of the pen is the sixth inning against a lefty like Ortiz or in a mop role. In mostly every other situation the Yankees are doing more harm than good in their chance to win a game because a manager can just put in a right handed batter which hit Logan at all star rates. At this point it would be much better to see Kontos or Whelan in his roster spot to see if they can do more adequate job at getting batters from both side of the plate regardless of how many lefties are in the pen for the Yankees.

    • CP says:

      Isn’t it possible that a 25 year old was able to make real improvements and continue his development and the changes in the last year and a half are real?

      • YankeesJunkie says:

        It is and Logan starting the year out with the Yankees was fine and I was confident that he was going to be #1 lefty. However, it seems that was aberration rather than a trend. More importantly though is that is his complete absence of ability to get right handed batters outs only makes him viable in certain times of the game to the point where you have to strongly consider bring up another pitcher. Not necessarily that they are more effective against lefties than Logan, but more effective in more situations than Logan which is realistically any where from 30-50 batters a year.

        • CP says:

          However, it seems that was aberration rather than a trend.

          Since June 22 when Logan dropped his arm angle, he has a 2.25 ERA, 12K, and 1BB in 8IP. He’s given up 1 HR and has a .278 BABIP in that time, so it’s not completely luck.

          • jsbrendog says:

            you should just copy and paste the link from your original comment cause i have a feeling you’ll be posting this many many times this thread.

            i did not know this information and i like it. he has at least bought himself some time.

          • YankeesJunkie says:

            The aberration I was referring to was Logan’s 2010 performance against left handed batters.

    • CJ says:

      That’s what September call-ups are for.

  4. Guns of the Navarone (a mushroom cloud layin' mothafucka, mothafucka) says:

    Joe Girardi is not a good manager: Example # …

    - End Of Post

    • But I find it difficult to complain when the opposing manager gains the platoon advantage by pinch-hitting two guys who have terrible MLB track records. A LOOGY has to be able to retire guys like that. And, again, Logan essentially did…

      It’s certainly possible, then, that Girardi is putting Logan in a position to succeed. Again, he’s faced just 39 righties this year in 107 total chances, or 37 percent. Last year it was 78 of 169, or 46 percent. You can learn a lot about a guy in a year, and it appears that Girardi has learned not only to limit his usage against righties, but also limit it to poor-hitting righties.

      While in an ideal world Logan would never face a righty, it’s simply a reality of the game. Thankfully, Girardi has placed him in situations this year that favor him. When he does face a righty, it is, for the most part, a poor hitting one. When he faces a quality one, it has come in mop-up duty. Last night was a further example of that. The Yanks lost the lead, due in no small part to Logan’s poor reaction time, but he did pitch well against light-hitting righties.

      How is last night an example of Girardi not being a good manager, again?

      • Ted Nelson says:

        Because he’s not perfect and he can’t make miracles happen, and mostly because the Yankees don’t win every single game he manages.

        Granderson’s lost fly ball and the grounder off Logan’s glove were both clearly Girardi’s fault.

      • Guns of the Navarone (a mushroom cloud layin' mothafucka, mothafucka) says:

        Because I believe (regardless of last night’s bad luck) that last night was another example of Girardi’s obsession with arbitrary bullpen roles.

        David Robertson has served the “fireman” role very well this season. He is dominant against both LHB and RHB. But I am 99 percent sure Joe Girardi did not even think of bringing him in at any point in that inning. Why? Because it wasn’t the 8th. The game was on the line (and eventually lost) in the 7th. But it wasn’t the 8th… Case closed as far as Girardi is concerned. It’s bad managing and it makes me wonder if he has any concept of leverage or how to better utilize the tools he’s been given on this team.

        And we won’t mention his bunting tactics – which again call into question his knowledge of the abilities of the team he’s paid to manage – because that would be off topic.

        Or the dynamic between Girardi and certain aging players on the roster.

        He’s not a good manager. He’s not a bad manager… he’s just not a good one. My opinion.

        • vin says:

          I don’t disagree, however, I just wonder if someone in Girardi’s position doesn’t want to be the first manager in the game to throw convention aside and use his best relievers when they are most needed.

          I may be completely wrong, but he strikes me as a smart guy. I bet he’s weighed the pros and cons of using his best relievers in earlier innings, and feels the backlash he would get (from the media, ownership, dumb fans, etc), and the disruption in the clubhouse (don’t forget players are slow to adapt to change in conventions) outweighs the benefits of using these kind of guys earlier in the game.

        • Jerome S. says:

          I think that he’s among the better ones. I mean, seriously, who’s better? Most managers either suck or are serviceable at best. Girardi’s been…. well, dumb, but not as much as other managers. I think that maybe Francona, Maddon, and definitely a few others are better, but the list is pretty thin.

        • Ted Nelson says:

          David Robertson also pitched on Sunday and Monday…

          • And as noted repeated above, Logan is a LOOGY who is fairly capable of retiring weak-hitting bench righty bats (like those he faced), which—outside of some unfortunate randomness—he basically did, so whether Robertson is available or not is secondary.

            Boone Logan was used in a role he should generally be able to handle and if not for a fluky lost flyball and a fluky carom off of Logan’s glove, he would have done just that. Logan coming in to face Fuld (or Fuld’s PH replacement) and Brignac (or Brignac’s PH replacement) in that spot is a sound decision, Robertson or no Robertson.

        • Stan the Man says:

          Your opinion is wrong but thanks for sharing.

      • MannyGeee says:

        wellllll, if I have to pitpick, I would not have sent a LOOGY in against Fuld or Brigniac, not LOOGY territory IMO.

        but small things… fallacy of the predetermined outcome and all that shit…

  5. Hester Prynne says:

    The problem of Logan will be alleviated when Soriano returns to his 8th inning role. That will free up Robertson to pitch in a situation with runners on such as last night in the 7th. Girardi could have used Robertson in the 7th last night and Logan/Wade in the 8th with the bases empty but that’s unrealistic to expect in this day and age.

    • Tim says:

      So you’d rather have Robertson pitch to Sam Fuld and Reid Brignac, then follow that up in the next inning by letter Boone Logan and Cory Wade face Damon, Zobrist, and Longoria?

      Oh, OK. I get it now. You’re an idiot.

    • Evan3457 says:

      Would be 3 games in a row for Robertson, and Girardi avoids that even with Mariano if he possibly can. He’ll do with Mo, but rarely with the other guys in the pen.

  6. steve (different one) says:

    Basically this whole article could be replaced with 3 words, “was Robertson available?”

    I assumed he wasn’t after pitching Sunday and Monday. If you accept that he was unavailable, Girardi’s decisions make perfect sense.

    If Robertson was available, then I’d agree he could have mixed and matched to finish the 7th. If he isn’t, then you need to stretch the only semi-reliable guys you have left.

  7. CP says:

    The irrational hate for Logan makes no sense to me. This is a guy who’s pitched 64 innings for the Yankees over the last two seasons with 61 strike outs (8.6 K/9), 29 walks (4.1 BB/9), and 5 HR (0.7 HR/9). He as a 3.09 ERA (136 ERA+). What has he done wrong?

    He’s not Mariano Rivera or David Robertson, but he’s been far from the worst reliever on the team.

    • vin says:

      “What has he done wrong?

      He’s not Mariano Rivera or David Robertson”

      I think you answered your own question. He’s probably in the upper third of all middle relievers.

      • YankeesJunkie says:

        His utter lack of getting righties out though is disturbing and really detracts from his value. If the descrapncy was 3.8 and 4.2 this would be a non issue.

        • MannyGeee says:

          and he has a tendency to plunk the guy he is sent in to face.

        • vin says:

          As mentioned above, he’s been very good against righties this year (small sample of course). And last year he was much worse, but still about average for most LOOGY’s. He’s got his warts, like all relievers, but for the most part he does the job he’s paid to do.

    • Jerome S. says:

      He’s the anti-Aaron Boone. Aaron Boone was pretty meh, but he had one bit moment so everyone kinda thinks he’s awesome.

      The current Boone, Boone the Logan, is also generally meh. But he’s had some pretty un-timely fuckups, so consequently everyone sees him as shittier than he is.

  8. Jedile says:

    I think we should have Swisher be our lefty specialist, he can pitch! Basically whenever we need him to face a lefty, we just move him from RF to P, and then bring in Dickerson for defensive upgrade. And after he faces his lefty we just put him back in RF and bring in Robertson!

    Swisher > Logan

    • Rick in Boston says:

      Then you lose the DH.

      • Jedile says:

        I thought you only lost the DH when you brought him into the field. I wasn’t aware that moving a positional player to Pitcher and then back lost you the DH, since it really does not involve him. Course I’ve never seen a game in which this has been done. I was just speculating, since Swisher did real well in his relief stint.

        • Rick in Boston says:

          If you swapped the pitcher with Swisher (placing the P in RF) then it should be okay. In your scenario, you are replacing the pitcher with Dickerson, which in the lineup means you are replacing the DH with him.

      • vin says:

        Don’t think so.

        Think about it this way…

        Dickerson comes in for the pitcher (like a pitching change), then switches positions in the field with Swish, who pitches to the lefty. Then they switch positions again after Swish retires the lefty, and Robertson comes in to replace Dickerson (another pitching change).

        • Rick in Boston says:

          Everytime someone enters the game, they have to take a position in the batting order. Since Swisher is already in the lineup, someone has to exit for Dickerson. It’s no different than having Posada start the game at DH then move to 1B if Tex got hurt. At that point, the pitcher must bat.

          Same rule, different scenarios, same result: you lose the DH.

        • Rick in Boston says:

          To further clarify, check out the game where Swisher pitched.

          Pay careful attention to the game log at the bottom and the moves made at the bottom of the eighth.

          • vin says:

            I may be completely wrong, but that was because Swisher was all ready in the game and was going to replace Coke. In the scenario above, Dickerson is relieving the previous pitcher… the fact that he and Swish switch positions has no bearing on the batting order. And after the lefties are retired, Dickerson and Swisher switch back and Robertson relieves Dickerson on the mound.

            • Rick in Boston says:

              Your scenario could work in an NL ballpark, but not in the AL. The problem revolves around the DH. If Swisher moves from his position to the mound, someone has to come off the bench. In theory, it should not matter, but in reality, he MUST have a position in the batting order, and it must be the DH’s unless you do a double-switch.

  9. Jon says:

    I still think the Yankees need some bullpen help at the trade deadline if they want to strengthen their bullpen for the stretch run.

  10. vin says:

    I’ve heard the “he must have a position in the batting order” rule, so I don’t doubt its existence in the rule book.

    So theoretically, what I proposed should work, but per MLB’s American League rules, it’s not allowed?

    • vin says:

      Not sure why it didn’t reply in the proper spot.

    • Rick in Boston says:

      Theoretically, yes. In fact, I think LaRussa did it in that lengthy game against the Mets last year where both teams tried to lose.

      You could do:

      Swisher, RF -> P
      Colon, P -> Bench
      Dickerson, Bench -> RF

      After the batter strikes out on one pitch (it is Swisher):

      Swisher, P -> RF
      Dickerson, RF -> Bench
      Robertson, Bench -> P

      • Rick in Boston says:

        As an addendum, if I ever saw Girardi try and do this, you all might want to help me when I plead insanity after driving to New York and killing Girardi.

        • Jedile says:

          Man didn’t think this would spark so much debate and maybe some interest. I was just thinking this, since well back when I played high school ball you could do this stuff. Basically everyone who was capable of pitching did so.

          I played LF and was a pitcher, I remember coming into games in relief and then going back out to the outfield if needed. I just think how cool it would be to see Golson or Arod pitch. Cause Arod has a pretty good arm from what i’ve seen. And golson has a cannon!

  11. Wil Nieves Number 1 Fan says:

    Boone LOLgan.

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