It’s my birthday, and it’s been a long day at that, so I’m not going to delve into the minutest of details like I usually do when I’m dissecting questionable bullpen management. If you’re really interested, just check out the play-by-play index and the box score, and you’ll get all the context you need.
I simply don’t understand why Yankees manager Joe Girardi pulled reliever David Robertson in favor of Alfredo Aceves with two outs and no one on in the bottom of the 11th inning. I suppose a cursory glance at their numbers might suggest that Aceves is a better pitcher than Robertson. Aceves, who relieved Robertson to face righty Howie Kendrick, posted a .228/.278/.414 line against righties in 2009. Robertson’s line was .237/.343/.409. With no runners on, opponents’ slugging takes on greater importance, and Robertson holds the edge in that regard. He allowed 0.7 HR/9, while Aceves allowed 1.1. Nevertheless, they’re basically the same in that situation, with Aceves possessing superior command and Robertson superior stuff (second in baseball with a 12.98 K/9).
So why yank Robertson, who had just convincingly retired Juan Rivera and Kendry Morales? He’s right-handed, just like Aceves. Robertson allows more batters to reach base, but strikes out more of them and keeps the ball in the park better than Aceves. Neither has a history against Kendrick (1 for 2 against Robertson with a single, Aceves had never faced him). Robertson threw 33 pitches on Saturday night, but Aceves threw 24. The choice between the two is a wash, so why make a move?
Irritatingly, I can’t avoid wondering if Girardi didn’t opt for Aceves because of his perceived veteran experience. Aceves, who is 26, had experience pitching in a Mexican league before signing with the Yankees in 2008. Robertson is 24. Both are in their second year of Major League Baseball. I fear this is the information Girardi relied on when making this baffling pitching change that may well have cost the Yankees the game. Perhaps I’m wrong. I hope I am. But any minute now, Girardi will be answering questions about this move, and I’m extremely curious to hear his reasoning. Because this reeks of over-managing to me.
UPDATE: We have just been graced with Joe Girardi’s explanation, and here it is: “We liked the matchup with [Aceves] better, and it didn’t work.”
In honor of this quotation, I’m adding the “feeble explanations” tag to the Fan Interference tag database.