I want to pretend that I didn’t spend all of Sunday night wondering if the Blue Jays are going to prevent me from watching the Yankees in the postseason. I want to pretend that the Yankees’ unwillingness to trade for David Price isn’t going to be difference between going straight to the ALDS or having to worry about winning a one-game wild-card playoff. I want to pretend like the Blue Jays haven’t gone from eight games back in the AL East to 1 1/2 games back in 12 days.
Here is another installment of “Monday Mentions” focused on questions and comments from Twitter about the Yankees’ disastrous weekend against the Blue Jays.
@NeilKeefe I wonder if joe Girardi will care about today and try and lose the game
— Yankees Baseball (@arodislegend) August 9, 2015
It’s hard to win games when you don’t score. The Yankees scored one run, ONE, in their biggest series of the season and the biggest series they have played since the end of 2012 and let the Blue Jays get within 1 1/2 games of them after a Stadium sweep. The Yankees needed to win one game this weekend to keep the Blue Jays five back in the loss column and prevent the weekend from being a complete disaster, but they couldn’t do that. Their best chance to win a game this weekend was on Friday, which is the only game they scored a run, but before they could score a second run, Joe Girardi lost the game.
I have written an unhealthy amount of words on set innings for relievers and how absurd it is, but Girardi is a big believer in having a seventh-inning guy and an eighth-inning guy and a ninth-inning guy and no matter the situation, he’s going to stick with it.
On Friday night, the Yankees and Blue Jays were tied 1-1 in the seventh inning. Nathan Eovaldi was still pitching and after a Mark Teixeira error and a Chase Headley bobble, the Blue Jays had runners on first and second with one out. Girardi called on Justin Wilson to relieve Eovaldi and he struck out Ben Revere on four pitches. Then Girardi called on Dellin Betances to relieve Wilson and he walked Troy Tulowitzki on four pitches and then got Josh Donaldson to ground out.
Betances returned in the eighth inning and after a Jose Bautista leadoff single, he retied Edwin Encarnacion, Justin Smoak and Russell Martin to end the inning.
Girardi called on Andrew Miller to relieve Betances in the ninth and he needed just six pitches to get through the inning against the Blue Jays’ 7-8-9-1 hitters.
The Yankees were unable to score in the bottom of the ninth, so the game went to 10th, and Girardi relieved Miller with rookie Branden Pinder to face the middle of the Blue Jays’ order: Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion. This would have been a frustrating but understandable move if it were the 14th or 15th inning, but it was the 10th inning. But it wasn’t the 14th or 15th, it was the 10th, and it was irresponsible for two reasons.
1. Miller had thrown SIX pitches in the ninth inning. SIX. Miller had thrown five pitches on Sunday against the White Sox and 17 pitches on Thursday against the Red Sox. So after Friday’s ninth inning, he had thrown 28 pitches in six days or 4.7 pitches per day for the week. Is 28 pitches over the course of a week too much? Was the nine pitches it took to retire the Yankees in the bottom of the ninth too much of a layoff between innings for Miller to return for the 10th?
2. Wilson, Betances and Miller had been used. So let’s pretend like Miller really couldn’t go a second inning after throwing SIX pitches and that Girardi had to go to the bullpen. Chasen Shreve and Adam Warren were both still in the bullpen yet Girardi decided that rookie Branden Pinder and his 14 2/3 career innings was the best choice to get through the heart of the order of the best team in Major League Baseball in as close to a playoff game in the regular season as there can be on Aug. 7.
I’m not going to get into Girardi’s bullpen decisions on Saturday and Sunday, which were also incredibly questionable, because the team didn’t score a run in either game. The Yankees are going to have a hard enough time keeping the Blue Jays from overtaking them in the AL East, they don’t need Joe Girardi managing them to losses.
@NeilKeefe Girardi hates Warren. No other explanation.
— Ace (@_EduVL) August 8, 2015
I really don’t understand what Adam Warren’s role is with the team. After being the most consistent starter for the first half of the season, the Yankees put him in the bullpen and left CC Sabathia in the rotation because of money and now Warren is randomly used. Sometimes he pitches with a lead, sometimes he pitches to hold a deficit, sometimes he pitches in the sixth inning, sometimes he pitches in the eighth innings, sometimes he faces on batter, sometimes he pitches multiple innings.
I have no idea when Warren will come into a game or how long he will stay in one. I have no idea what the long-term plan for him is because I have no idea what the current and short-term plan is for him. He went from most reliable starter to being put behind Andrew Miller, Dellin Betances, Justin Wilson and Chasen Shreve on the bullpen pecking order. I would say the Yankees’ handling of him has been very odd, but then again, this is exactly how the Yankees handle pitchers.
August 5th 2015 and Stephen Drew is still in the major leagues. @NeilKeefe
— BIZZO (@craigmiller) August 6, 2015
That tweet was from last Wednesday and five days ago. After that tweet, Drew went 0-for-9 in three games to watch his batting average drop back down to .192 after having gotten it up to a season-high(!) .199 on Sunday in Chicago. Drew has never seen .200 this season. Not on Opening Day. Not in the first week of the season when averages change hundreds of points with each hit and out. Never.
Today is Aug. 10. Stephen Drew is still a Yankee. How that is possible hurts my head to even think about. Drew has started 79 games this season and has gone hitless in 37 of them. So in 47 percent of Drew’s starts, he hasn’t gotten a hit.
The Yankees clearly don’t like Rob Refsnyder as a player and don’t want to give him a chance to become the everyday second baseman. Maybe he does have an attitude problem, which has been rumored, but who cares? If he can hit, I don’t care if one person on the team likes him. If the Yankees aren’t willing to give him a chance right now, what makes anyone think they are going to give him one in September when rosters expand? Just because they won’t have to DFA anyone to have him in the majors at that point doesn’t mean he will playing and not riding the bench, especially if the team is fighting for a postseason spot.
@NeilKeefe martin prado ;(
— jorge nunez (@righteousjorge) August 9, 2015
The Yankees chose not to improve the roster at the trade deadline while the Blue Jays and Orioles made big moves to make a run at the division and wild card, while the Royals, Astros, Angels and Rangers all made moves to improve their teams to contend. The Marlins were willing to trade Dan Haren to the Cubs with the Dodgers still paying all of Haren’s $10 million, so I’m pretty sure the Marlins would have been willing to trade Martin Prado back to the Yankees, considering the Yankees were already paying $3 million of his $11 million salary this season and next.
The Yankees traded for Dustin Ackley, designated Garrett Jones for assignment, put Michael Pineda on the DL, called up Luis Severino, put Ackley on the DL and re-signed Jones. Those were the Yankees’ trade deadline moves. Essentially, they did nothing. Ackley would have been the same or worse than Jones, Drew and Brendan Ryan and Severino replaces Pineda, so basically, everything cancels each other out.
@NeilKeefe Where your stats on if the Yankees play .500 ball?
— Tim Hughes (@Timbo367) August 9, 2015
On July 31, the Yankees had a six-game lead in the AL East. Today, that lead is 1 1/2 games. In the span of nine games, the Yankees managed to blow 75 percent of their lead and now they are a bad road trip in Cleveland and Toronto from being in second place in the division and suddenly in the wild-card game.
But since I was asked … If the Yankees play .500 baseball the rest of the season and go 26-26, here is what the rest of the AL East would have to do just to tie them: Toronto 26-23, Baltimore 31-21, Tampa Bay 31-19, Boston 37-13. That closed quickly.
There is this rhetoric that even after the weekend and even after going 1-4 in their last five games that the Yankees are still in first place. That’s nice, but like I said in that tweet, it’s like being up $1,000 at a casino and giving $950 back and still technically being “up”. The Yankees still have a lead in the division, but from where it was a week ago, or even three days ago, it doesn’t feel like they do.