Aaron Boone’s bullpen management has occasionally come under criticism during his short time at the helm of the Yankees. In some respects, that’s to be expected, since every team’s fans will get annoyed with the manager’s bullpen decisions at some point.
On the other hand, he has made some mistakes. While those can partially be blamed on his inexperience as a manager, they still happened all the same.
On Saturday as the game was tied in the late innings and into extras, I was manning the Pinstripe Alley Twitter account. Chad Green threw an easy 1-2-3 inning in the seventh, but was replaced by Dellin Betances for the eighth. People on Twitter questioned the idea of not letting Green also throw the eighth with the idea that Boone was blowing through his bullpen too early.
The Yankees did get somewhat lucky in that they were forced to have A.J. Cole go two innings later on, and it worked. That being said, the criticism of Boone shows the fickle nature of bullpen management. No matter what move a manager makes, there will always be someone to question it.
Just two days before, a similar situation played out in the game against the Red Sox. Betances threw a 12-pitch inning in the seventh, and then came back out for the eighth. He promptly gave up a home run to Hanley Ramirez and the Yankees lost the game. Letting the seemingly still fresh guy who threw an inning go longer didn’t work. It wasn’t a terrible idea, but it backfired.
The retort people would have to that is that pretty much all of Betances multi-inning outings have been bad this year, and that is part of what Green excelled at last year. Fine. However, the day before that, Green came in and finished off the sixth, came back out for the seventh, and gave up two runs to turn a lead into a one-run deficit. Of the six earned runs Green has allowed this year, four have come when he’s come out for a second inning. He may have been great at that last year, but this year, in an admittedly very small sample size, he hasn’t been.
Therein lies the problem with this bullpen this year: no one really has been consistent. Before writing this post, if you had blindly asked me who have been the best relievers this year, I would have said Aroldis Chapman and David Robertson.
Chapman has been good mostly, but then again he walked the bases loaded on Sunday. He got out of it thanks to a lucky and/or great tag from Gary Sanchez and a replay crew that were willing to overturn the call on the teeniest flicker of jersey fabric. If that hadn’t happened, he probably would have taken a loss.
Robertson has been solid this year, but then you look at his overall stats, and they look a bit bad because he’s allowed four runs in the last couple outings. Again, it’s a small sample size, and he’s still mostly been good, but his numbers still don’t read as someone who’s been incredibly consistent.
It’s the same story for the rest of the bullpen. Green and Betances have had moments of being good, and moments of looking really bad. Tommy Kahnle and Adam Warren have been hurt. Chasen Shreve started off impressively, but has gone downhill. (In other words, he’s been Chasen Shreve.) Jonathan Holder has been a disaster until his three most recent appearances.
Most of these pitchers are pretty good, and at some point they’ll probably figure it out, and we’ll get some consistency. If that happens and Boone is still making errors, then maybe it’ll be time to start worrying about that aspect of his management. However, he has been a bit handcuffed so far.