At this rate, the Yankee bullpen is going to be burned out by Independence Day. Ever since Aroldis Chapman returned from his suspension, Joe Girardi has gone to his Big 3 of Chapman, Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances over and over and over again. I mean hey, if you got the horses then let them run. What’s the point of having the best bullpen trio in baseball if you don’t use them, right? On the surface it makes sense, but if you’ve watched the last two games then I don’t know how you can agree with the way Girardi has managed his bullpen.
Wednesday night, Nathan Eovaldi pitched one of the best – if not the best games of his life. He gave up a fluke double to start off the game and then went on to retire the next 18 batters in a row. You heard that correctly. 18 straight D-Backs retired and they didn’t even come close to hitting him. Eovaldi stood at 85 pitches after six and there was no doubt in anyone’s mind that he was coming out for the seventh. Ha ha ha, guess again. Girardi decided to call on Betances for no reason and the big man needed 31 pitches to work around a pair of walks. Sure he didn’t give up a run and the Yankees ended up winning the game, but it was such panicky managing that it didn’t even feel enjoyable.
Fast forward to tonight and Ivan Nova is on the bump. Nova, who recently returned to the rotation after some injuries, has been pitching well and this game was no exception. Nova threw six terrific innings with the only blemish coming on a Josh Reddick home run. One run in six innings while throwing just 62 pitches? GOTTA GO TO THE BULLPEN AGAIN. Are. You. Kidding. Me? Even the Yankees’ beat writers lost it and starting roasting Girardi for his absurd move.
The pitchers on my 11-year-old’s Little League team throw more than 62 pitches in a start.
— Mark Feinsand (@FeinsandNYDN) May 20, 2016
Go through his tweets, there are some gems there. I have so much respect for Mark Feinsand for saying what all of us fans feel. There is no way you can justify taking Nova out at 62 pitches when he’s cruising. This isn’t a World Series game or a must-win game in September. It’s the middle of May and Girardi is managing like it’s an elimination game.
What’s so annoying is that the Yankees have two serious issues when it comes to their pitching staff: lack of length from starters and an overworked bullpen. Sure sometimes the starters are ineffective and the bullpen needs to be leaned on, but many times those two issues are directly from Joe Girardi making some of the most questionable moves I’ve ever seen.
All we heard all Spring was how Girardi wanted to avoid using the Big 3 in the same game as much as possible to ensure at least one was always available. That makes sense. Sometimes you’ll use all three when necessary, but avoid it when it’s not. However, when you’re in last place you panic and completely go off the rails. You take out a pair of starters who are dealing without a worry in the world and go to the big boys in the pen. In the last six games, Girardi has used the Big 3 in the same game FOUR times. FOUR. Two of those games they were all needed, but the last two they weren’t. You could’ve gotten through last night by using one or two and the same could probably be said about tonight’s game.
Why is it such a big deal aside from the obvious side effect of burning them out? Well Girardi has a rule where pitchers can’t pitch three days in a row. I personally like the rule, although I think there are times when it should be broken, but I digress. Anyway by using the Big 3 on back-t0-back nights, now none of them (maybe, MAYBE one if it’s crucial) are available tomorrow. Going into a game knowing half your bullpen is unavailable is terrible, especially when it could have easily been avoided.
CC Sabathia is starting tomorrow, coming off the DL, and he has trouble going past six innings. That’s the kind of game you’d love to have your big relivers available. Thanks to Girardi, presumably none of them will be. I’m all for winning today and worrying about tomorrow, tomorrow… but when you panic like crazy to win today and totally dismiss tomorrow, that’s where you lose me. Girardi has been managing this way for years and frankly I’m sick of it.