Last night, as I was writing a piece on Zack Britton, he surrendered a 3-run home run to Vladimir Guerrero Jr., blowing the game for the Yanks. So it shouldn’t surprise me that, a few days after praising Aaron Boone’s bullpen management, he went out there and completely misused his bullpen arms. Let’s go through this.
First, it’s important again to remember that Boone has been very, very good at using the pen. Here are the updated numbers:
That’s still pretty much exactly what you want. Last night, though, wasn’t Boone’s finest hour. Let’s leave aside the results for a moment and stick purely to the process.
The Yankees took a 7-4 lead into the bottom of the 7th, needing 6 outs to bridge the gap to Aroldis Chapman. The middle of the Jays order — starting with Vladimir Guerrero Jr. in slot 2 — was due up.
Boone went to Jonathan Holder, which in and of itself isn’t an inexcusable decision. Holder has good rate stats, after all, and it was a three-run lead. No real complaints.
The problem, though, is that Boone clearly was planning on using Zack Britton, who is much better than Jonathan Holder, in the 8th inning. We know this because Boone, of course, turned to Britton with 2 outs in the 7th following a run-scoring double by Teoscar Hernandez. He turned to Britton for 4 outs.
If you’re going to use Britton at all, why not use him against the middle of the order? You’d think that would make the most sense. That way, you can start the 7th with Britton against the heart of the order and plan to use Holder in the 8th against the bottom third and turn to Chapman if he runs into trouble. Britton’s status as a ground ball heavy pitcher makes him a less than ideal “fireman” candidate as it is.
This was a puzzling decision by Boone — let alone the fact that, if you ARE going to use Britton for 4 outs, why bring him in after the runs have already scored? — in what has been largely a good year for him. Besides, I’m not sure that anything he did last night would have worked. It seems to have been just One of Those Games. It wasn’t the finest night for the Yankee skipper. (We’ll just ignore the fact that Kendrys Morales, of all people, hit cleanup last night.)
We can only hope that this is something that doesn’t continue moving forward, because Boone has already shown himself to be smarter than this with the way he uses Ottavino. Oh well. Onto the next one.