LADY AT THE BAT: Yankees Bullpen Day Works Out Well In Short & Long-Term

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Yankees Bullpen Day Works Out Well In Short & Long-Term

Last night, way back in the bottom of the 1st inning, right around when Chris Capuano was pulled from the game after 0.2 IP, 42 pitches and just 18 strikes, and before the Yankees offense put up some truly impressive offensive numbers, Yankees writer Bryan Hoch tweeted the following quote that he attributed to John Sterling:

“In baseball, you play so many games, sometimes you have to lose a battle to win the war.”

The point of the quote was, yes, the Yankees were taking a risk of losing a game started by Chris Capuano from the outset, but the benefits for the starting rotation made that potential loss more than worth it.

Here’s the current fragile state of the Yankees starters: Masahiro Tanaka has missed time on the DL and is pitching with a partially torn UCL. Ivan Nova was pulled yesterday with arm fatigue and, though he downplayed it, Nova is coming off Tommy John surgery and still needs to be careful. CC Sabathia is getting older and has a bad knee. Michael Pineda has been injured every year he has been with the Yankees, has never thrown 200 innings in a season and is already at 118.0 IP for the year. As for Nathan Eovaldi, well, he seems fine actually, but if you can get him some rest then why not?

The starting rotation is the Yankees' weakest link. As Bernadette pointed out yesterday, the offense has saved starters on more than one occasion. The Yankees bullpen has also shouldered more than their fair share of innings, with starters often failing to go deep into games.

So, if those starters can be kept healthy and effective as the Yankees play through the summer, then that’s for the benefit of the entire team. So, yes, maybe Joe Girardi will sacrifice a game or two with a bullpen day but, if it gets those starters the occasional breather then so be it.

Of course the Yankees offense silenced the critics of this plan (for a night anyway) by putting up 21 unanswered runs against Texas Rangers pitching. This wasn’t even a chip away game. They scored 11 runs in the half inning after the Rangers scored their five, and just kept slugging from there.

The star of the game was Diego Moreno, who relieved Chris Capuano after just being called up, and no hit the potent Rangers offense for 5.1 IP.  (In fact, the Rangers didn't get a hit after Capuano left the game. That's 8.1 IP of no hit ball.) Moreno absolutely earned the win, his first in the Major Leagues, with his stellar performance.

Offensively Didi Gregorius (4-for-5, 3 RBIs and 2 runs scored) and Chris Young (3-for-5 with a Grand Slam) set the pace for the team but, really, this was a team effort. Aside from Mark Teixeira--who may have suffered some karmic effects for his unprofessional behavior during and after yesterday's game--starters had at least one hit and one RBI. 

The Yankees simply had no intentions of losing last night's game. 

The point from the 1st inning still stands though. Even if the Yankees had lost this game, Girardi made the right call by inserting a sixth starter for a turn through the rotation. The Yankees have built themselves a bit of a cushion and, if keeping the starters healthy will help them keep / grow that cushion in the long run, then that’s the right move. Win or lose, it’s the right call. Glad to see Girardi wasn’t afraid to make it.

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