The good, the bad, the ugly – a few quick shots about the just completed series against the AA Tampa Bay Rays:
Aaron Boone is off to a very bad start and fans should be more concerned than they are. Think I’m overreacting? I’ll come back to that in a minute…
On Tuesday, in the 6th inning with a 4-1 lead, Boone decided to insert Jonathan Holder into the game. To your “Who is Jonathan Holder?” question, he is literally #13 on the Yankees’ 13 man staff. He promptly gave up 3 earned runs, game tied.
Later, in the bottom 7th, with the game tied Tyler Austin led off with a double. Let’s be clear about the situation: Runner on 2nd, nobody out and your numbers 1, 2, 3, and 4 hitters coming up. This is put up a football score, game set match type of inning. Altogether now…
Brett Gardner bunts. Of course he did. Just to review, using last season’s numbers the run expectancy with a runner on 2nd and no out was 1.11. With a runner on 3rd and one out it was .93. Another reminder that this isn’t football where you run the ball into the line 3 times and take a FG instead of a TD in exchange for time off the clock. The other team still gets all their outs regardless if you score 10, 1, or zero. The goal is to score as many as you can, whenever you can.
Luckily, Tampa can’t field or pitch so it turned out all right. Although Boone felt it necessary to have Aroldis Chapman warm up in the 9th with a 4 run lead just to be sure.
Last season during a stretch of crap in the spring against inferior teams where Joe Girardi continually used low level relievers when their best were available and it cost them games, I wrote that it would come back to bite them. (The Yankees lost the AL East by two games.) Since we know it’s going to be a tight race with Boston again this season, costing a game or two that should be won – yes, even in the spring, these games count – is a big deal. Maybe it didn’t cost them this time, but it might next time – or the next time Chapman is needed in a 1 run game and he isn’t available because he pitched the two previous nights in blowouts. And we segue…
Wednesday’s game was a little more straight forward: Giancarlo Stanton, Gary Sanchez and Aaron Judge hit home runs and Luis Severino is way too good for the Tampa minor leaguers – game over. But the game did bring up (again) a few things worth re-hashing:
One: Didi Gregorius should not be batting 4th as long as Judge, Stanton and Sanchez are on the roster. This isn’t open for discussion.
Two: Michael Kay, in his usual ham handed attempts at being hip by discussing analytics in baseball, mentioned that Severino’s numbers were actually better against batters the 3rd time through the lineup than they were through the first and second times. Therefore, (his point was) perhaps the notion that starting pitchers shouldn’t go through the lineup a 3rd time was a misguided notion spawned by people who can do math.
The point Michael, and anyone else who doesn’t pay attention, is to have your best pitching option in the game. That gives you a better chance of winning. Someone please try to punch a hole in that logic. In Severino’s case, he’s a better option than virtually all of the guys in the bullpen on most nights. But Severino is an exception. Most starters aren’t Severino, and are therefore, inferior to a bullpen option in most cases. That being said, for future reference Mr. Boone, staying with Jordan Montgomery is a better option than Jonathan Holder, as discussed above. But in most cases, by the 5th inning, Kahnle>Sabathia, Green>Gray, etc.
Three: Boone put Chapman in the game with a 5 run lead. Again. The Cuban missile has had three appearances: Twice he needed to protect 5 run leads and once a 3 run lead for 3 outs in each case.
It’s five o’clock somewhere, right?
Hope they don’t need him tonight and tomorrow in a close game for 4 outs…