|2009 Postseason Sortable Pitching Splits-As Reliever|
Results speak for themselves, no?
Say what you want about Joe Girardi’s quick hook with relievers, but his Bullpen has outperformed everyone else’s in the playoffs. Including teams like the Dodgers, who were thought to have far more talent on their staff going in.
It’s also worth noting that every one of his relievers was available for last night’s game, which featured CC Sabathia going on short rest. Mike Scioscia was going to avoid using his primary setup man Kyle Jepsun, who was used for 31 pitches on Monday night. That’s what you call a competitive advantage. It wound up not being used in last night’s game, but it was there if needed.
When dealing with relievers, overuse can lead to injury and/or ineffectiveness. A bit of fatigue may not sound like much, but it’s the difference between a fastball with some hair on it and a fastball that’s straight as an arrow, which is the difference between a fly ball and a 3-Run Home Run. Anyone who watched Torre’s 04-07 Yankee teams is familiar with that. So while it’s easy to take these results for granted, I would argue that they are no accident, they are by design. Girardi has consistently given his relief corps less work than they can handle, taken care not get guys up and down (which was why he used 2 lefties on Monday) and kept their pitch counts low. We as fans may not like this unconventional approach, but it has yeilded results. It’s also pretty tough to ignore the lack of results by the man Girardi replaced (famous for his overuse of relievers) when heading into this October, Joe Torre was thought to have the best bullpen in all of Baseball.
To be sure, the Aceves move on Monday didn’t work, but let’s put that into some context. Joe Girardi has called upon his bullpen 30 times in 7 games this post season, producing only one glaring failure. If I was a MLB manager, and something I was doing was working 29 out of 30 times, I wouldn’t care what criticism I received for it from fans, sportswriters or players, I would keep on doing it. As we all know, nothing is 100%.
Now critics will probably dismiss all of this as a ‘Small Sample Size’, which it is. But of course, so are the playoffs. Baseball determines who wins the World Series in a tiny sample of 7 games. More experienced managers than Girardi will tell you that you have to manage differently in October than you would in June. If you think 23 Innings facing the best teams in your league are meaningless, then it should also follow that the Yanks’ World Series championships mean little as well. I doubt many Yankee fans would embrace that idea.