Analyzing Joe Girardi’s Bullpen Management in Yankees’ Loss To Indians

May 29, 2010   ·     ·   Jump to comments
Article Source: Bleacher Report - New York Yankees

With one out in the top of the seventh inning, the New York Yankees led the Cleveland Indians 10-6. Austin Kearns had just singled in a run against David Robertson, who threw one more pitch before leaving the game with an undisclosed injury.

Summoning Sergio Mitre, Joe Girardi made the proper move. His team led by four runs with eight remaining outs, and Mitre, formerly a starter, could potentially finish the game.

After Mitre walked Jhonny Peralta, Cleveland manager Manny Acta made a move that would change the game. Acta sent Russell Branyan, a powerful lefty slugger, to the plate instead of Shelley Duncan.

Suddenly, there were two Indians on base with one out and Branyan, who had homered in two of his four games played at the new Yankee Stadium, at the plate. With Branyan’s proclivity for homering in the Bronx and hitting Mitre—he has recorded two hits in five at-bats—Girardi incontrovertibly needed to counter Acta with a pitching change.

Girardi had four options—Joba Chamberlain, Chad Gaudin, Damaso Marte, or Mariano Rivera. Of course, the logical move was to substitute Marte, a lefty who the Yankees signed for the sole purpose of silencing the bats of opposing lefties in big situations.

Branyan had never faced Marte but entered the at-bat hitting .185 against lefties in 2010. Marte clearly had the advantage and ultimately won the battle—Branyan flew out to center. However, Girardi’s long-reliever was out of the game.

With two outs, Mark Grudzielanek, a pesky right-hander, was due up. Girardi’s options were down to three—Chamberlain, Gaudin, or Rivera.

Chamberlain had faced the Indians’ second baseman three times and only retired him once while Gaudin had won the battle nine of 11 times. The recently re-acquired ‘pen member had also fanned Grudzielanek four times.

Girardi signaled for Chamberlain, who surrendered an RBI single to Grudzielanek and gave up three more runs before recording the final out of the inning.

While the numbers and results certainly raise questions about Girardi’s decision, one cannot blame the skipper for using Chamberlain over Gaudin.

Chamberlain has not been dominant like he was out of the bullpen in 2007, but, with the exception of two terrible outings against Boston and Minnesota, he has had an incredibly successful month of May.

Eliminate those two performances and Chamberlain’s May looks like this: 9.1 innings, 3 hits, 0 runs, 15 k’s.

On the other hand, Gaudin has had a dreadful start to 2010. He has given up at least one run in eight of 13 appearances and entered today’s game with a 8.69 ERA. In addition, he allowed a homer in his first 2010 appearance with the Yankees on Thursday.

Girardi couldn’t possibly choose the inconsistent Gaudin over Chamberlain, whose velocity is back in the mid-90’s. Chamberlain sat around 95-96 mph and topped out at 97 mph today, but his control was slightly erratic and the Indians took advantage and a 12-10 lead.

After throwing 25 pitches in the seventh, Chamberlain couldn’t toe the mound in the eighth. Gaudin took over and gave up one run—a solo blast to Russell Branyan—in the final two innings.

The Yankees scored a run in the bottom of the ninth but fell short, 13-11.

Often, a manager is criticized for losing a game like this. However, Girardi made all the correct moves in the deciding seventh inning—his bullpen, with the exception of Marte, simply did not produce.

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