I’m going to try and make this quick, because it’s my birthday and I have more important things to do, like play Fallout: New Vegas for the next seven hours.
Last night’s Rangers-Yankees game featured some unforgivably stupid bullpen management, courtesy of both Joe Girardi and Ron Washington. Let’s start with Girardi, who has generally done a good job so far, due to his suppression of his manic, Coffee Joe alter ego. With the Yankees down 2-0 entering the top of the 9th inning, Girardi put in lefty specialist Boone Logan to face Josh Hamilton. This was a defensible decision, as Logan’s job is to get out tough lefties and Hamilton is the only tough lefty the Rangers have. Unfortunately, Hamilton doubled and the bullpen merry-go-round began. Girardi called on David Robertson, who blew the game wide open in an uncharacteristically horrendous appearance. Sergio Mitre mopped up the inning, but the damage was done: 8-0 Rangers, ballgame over.
You know where I’m going with this, don’t you?
How on earth did Girardi not use Rivera at any point in the inning? The Yankees were down 2-0. The heart of the order was due up in the bottom of the 9th. Cliff Lee’s night was over. The Yankees had a chance to win the game. Once Hamilton doubles, Girardi has to use Rivera to hold the line. Moreover, AJ Burnett was (and is) due to pitch the next game, which made going for broke in last night’s game even more obvious of a decision. You could argue – convincingly, I think – that the Yankees’ season was on the line with Hamilton on second and nobody out. And Girardi left the greatest reliever of all-time on the bench because it wasn’t a save situation (even though a save situation was impossible in last night’s game), because he doesn’t understand that being down by two is often a higher leverage situation than being up by three, and because “if you bring in Mo, you may not have him available for multiple innings tomorrow if you want to use him.” Of course, the only scenario in which Rivera will pitch multiple innings is if tonight’s game is tied late or if there’s a slim lead late, neither of which is likely with Burnett pitching. If Rivera doesn’t get into tonight’s game at all, I’m going to break something.
Not to be outdone, Ron Washington had his own gaffe. With the Rangers up 8-0, Washington used closer Neftali Feliz to finish the game. That’s right, the same Neftali Feliz who sat on the bench in Game 1 as Washington shuffled through reliever after reliever after reliever to stop the Yankees’ rally. So apparently being up by eight in the 9th is a good spot for Feliz, but watching a four-run lead dwindle in the 8th is simply the wrong time to use your best reliever. Fittingly, the Yankees were patient with Feliz, forcing him to throw 20 pitches in his single inning of work, so it’s possible that he’ll be unavailable tonight. And if he pitches tonight, he’ll certainly be unavailable tomorrow. Well done, Ron Washington.
I’m sorry, but most managers simply aren’t that bright.