Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Remember When Joe Girardi Was Good At Bullpen Management?


Any Yankee fan can remember how hard it was to watch this team during Joe Torre's later years as the manager of the Yankees. He consistently used the same group of veteran arms out of the bullpen seemingly every single day and never found a rookie he would even consider trusting unless it was a blowout. Enter Joe Girardi for the 2008 season instilling hope and faith in all Yankees fans that the future was bright, even when the team missed the playoffs.

Girardi relied heavily on young arms that season and in 2009 when the team won the World Series and while he relied on his bullpen heavily he never overused one or two guys. Girardi had Mariano Rivera in his bullpen and brought us David Robertson and still managed to never seemingly have a pitcher in the top 20 or so in innings pitched out of the bullpen. That has all changed in 2014.

Girardi seems to be sipping on the Torre milkshake and has overused some of his relief pitchers this season, namely Dellin Betances. Heading into play last night Dellin had thrown the most innings of any relief pitcher in Major League Baseball this season with 68.2 innings pitched. Adam Warren has thrown the 11th most innings in MLB as a relief pitcher with 58.2 innings pitched in 2014 and David Huff has the third most innings pitched out of the Yankees pen and has thrown the 69th most innings this year with 47.1 innings pitched. David Robertson does not make an appearance on the list until #86 with 44.2 innings pitched.

It's not just his overuse of pitchers that has me scratching my head it's his blatant disregard for using rookie pitchers as well. Mark Melancon was donned as the eventual replacement for Mariano Rivera and was ultimately shipped off in a trade after falling out of favor in New York. He pitched once every two weeks and came into games with obvious rust and command and control issues. This sounds eerily similar to the way Jose Ramirez was handled while in the Yankees bullpen. Ramirez does not have much to complain about though because Girardi flat out refused to use Bryan Mitchell or Shane Greene until it was absolutely necessary.

Greene was brought into the rotation when the Yankees were essentially out of depth and at their wit's end with the rotation and the righty excelled. Mitchell was up for his third time this season and was finally allowed to pitch in a game, a blow out, and pitched two scoreless innings. How was Mitchell rewarded? He was sent down the next day for a "fresh" arm (fresh meaning veteran in this context) the next day.

Girardi use to manage a bullpen and do it well but lately it seems like the pressure to win and make the playoffs is hurting him much like it did Mr. Torre. At least Torre had a reason to worry, he was working for George Steinbrenner, Girardi doesn't. So if anyone in the Yankees organization is reading this please pass this along to Joe because it doesn't take an arm chair quarterback to see that you're doing it wrong.

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