July 31, 2009

Girardi makes questionable bullpen move

With a tie game and one out in the ninth inning, Joe Girardi yanked Phil Hughes out of the game with two runners aboard.

Rather than upgrading to Mariano Rivera, he downgraded to Phil Coke to hopefully sit down the two upcoming lefties. I was startled when Girardi came out of the dugout, and was ticked off as I watched Coke take one off his glove resulting in a loss.

I am sure Girardi would base his move on the lefty-lefty matchup, as Coke has limited lefties to a .190 oBA and a 23/3 K/BB ratio. Hughes’ numbers aren’t nearly as good, but aren’t bad either: .255 oBA and a 29/12 K/BB ratio. Sometimes, you have to look past the numbers, which is what I believe Girardi should have done.

Hughes has been the strongest reliever other than Mo this year. He hadn’t allowed a run in over 20 innings, and has struck out 10.9 per nine innings as a reliever.

It was also an awkward time to take Hughes out. At 35 pitches, it was already clear he probably won’t be pitching in Friday night’s game, so why not leave him out there for two more batters? If this game had gone  deep into extras, which I thought would have happened, the Yankees would have run out of pitchers first. That may or may not have impacted Ozzie Guillen’s decision to keep lefty Matt Thornton in the game, rather than his closer Bobby Jenks.

Bottom line, if you are going to take out your second best pitcher in the middle of an inning, only replace him with your best. Rivera comes into that situation, he gets out of it nine times out of 10. Simple as that.

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