Boone Logan is the Yankees’ relief ace right now. A year ago that would have been pretty scary, but a new emphasis on his slider has morphed the 27-year-old left-hander into a strikeout machine — 36.3% of all batters this season (38.8% vs. LHB and 32.2% vs. RHB) — and the team’s most consistently reliable reliever in 2012. Rafael Soriano has been solid in the late innings and Cory Wade continues to get outs with his finesse approach, but Logan has emerged as the team’s best reliever in the wake of Mariano Rivera‘s and David Robertson‘s injuries.
Along with increased effectiveness comes increased responsibility, and Boone has assumed a prominent late-inning role this month. So prominent that Joe Girardi didn’t use him in obvious matchup situation last night because it was still too early in the game. With the bases loaded and two outs in the sixth inning of a one-run game, Girardi used right-hander David Phelps to pitch to Kendrys Morales despite the switch-hitter’s massive platoon split: .352 wOBA vs. RHP and .214 wOBA (with a .000 ISO!) vs. LHP. Sure enough, Morales doubled in two costly runs.
“If I was going to turn (Kendrys) around I was going to do it with Boonie, and Boonie’s one of the guys I use in the seventh and the eighth now,” said Girardi after the game. “So I just felt it was too early.”
Logan eventually did face Morales, with two outs and the bases empty in the eighth inning, after the Yankees scored three runs in the bottom of the seventh to tie. He faced only the one batter. That’s the double-edged sword of having a reliever emerge as a bullpen force, they get pigeon-holed into specific innings. Using Phelps to face Morales in the sixth inning didn’t cost the Yankees the game last night but it didn’t exactly help their cause either. When Robertson gets healthy, it’ll be nice to see Logan used a little more liberally in the middle innings.
The majority of the voters in this morning’s poll want to see Soriano on the mound when the game is on the line but I couldn’t disagree more. With all due to respect to the fill-in closer — who has been very good following the injuries despite his knack for baserunners — Logan has been more effective this season and he’s the guy I want out there in big spots, even if there’s a right-hander at the plate. Of course using your best reliever in the biggest spot of the game is far easier said than done, but sometimes, like last night, the situation is staring you right in the face.