I agree and disagree with Steve’s article. I agree that Joe is getting way too much flack about previous moves that clearly have worked out. I disagree about the Robertson move, however. Joe not only miscalculated the matchup (debatable) but he also completely ignored what his eyes told him about the form of his pitcher on the mound that night. This, too, has to enter into the equation, and I feel like Girardi ignored that factor when making his decision.
The matchup question is debatable. Steve brings up some fantastic statistics, and it’s true that Kendrick struggles most against sliders, but Aceves does not have a nasty slider or any nasty breaking pitches, so the edge is slight at best. Robertson has the best breaking pitch between the two of them with his filthy curveball, and his fastball is clearly better, so you could argue that the matchup edge is even or favors D-Rob. Different pitchers have different sliders and Ace has never faced Kendrick before, so you really can’t tell. If anything, there’s only a slight edge in Ace’s favor.
That slight edge should be overwhelmed by the rule of form. Use your eyes: how is this guy pitching? D-Rob has been pitching very well of late and the only two batters against him to that point had no good swings against him. His form was excellent, while Aceves’ form was uncertain. This was not Manny Ramirez in his prime we were facing, here, it was Howie Kendrick. A good pitcher, in good form, spotting his pitches well, as Robertson was, will get out a good hitter. Howie Kendrick is not a special, elite player. If you throw good pitches, you’ll get him out.
Taking out a pitcher who’s clearly throwing good pitches for another pitcher who has no clear, overwhelming matchup advantage is ill-advised. You have no idea whether Aceves will have his best stuff on any given night, while you already know that D-Rob has good stuff that night. As Joe should have learned earlier with Joba, there’s always a decent chance on any night that the pitcher you bring in will either just not have it, or will need a few batters to get into his rhythm. Robertson is already pitching with rhythm. I love Joe and I love that he uses stats and data extensively in his analysis, but I’d hate to see him become completely reliant upon statistics and scouting reports to the point where he completely ignores his gut, his eyes, common sense, and the current form of the players he has on his team.