The umpire previews have crossed the internet bridge from River Avenue Blues to Views From 314ft. The umpires go from four to six for the postseason series, and the best of the best, as recorded by umpire technology and umpire supervisors, get postseason assignments.
The day after the season ended the umpires for the Wild Card and Division Series were announced. There are three first-time postseason umpires and two working their first Division Series. There are also four umpires who will be working as replay umpires at the bunker in Chelsea during the Division Series. These four are Ron Kulpa (46), Gabe Morales (47), Paul Nauert (39) and Brian O’Nora (7).
The Yankees have challenged 23 calls during the 2019 season, and 15 were overturned, 8 upheld (.652 batting percentage, which is 2nd best in baseball behind the Royals).
The Yankees and umpires have been an interesting mix this season. It was Aaron Boone being tossed by rookie Brennan Miller which set into motion the “Savages in the Box” meme that has lasted throughout the 2019 season. Brett Gardner’s slamming of a bat on the dugout roof has also caused controversy. A site this writer is a member of has not had issues calling Brett Gardner names that would be rather left unsaid.
Without further ado, let’s dig into the crew who will be umpiring the American League Division Series (A).Embed from Getty Images
Manny Gonzalez (No. 79 – Home Plate Game 1)
The native of Caracas, Venezuela, and the first umpire born in Venezuela, Gonzalez is the home plate umpire in Game 1. Gonzalez is your definition of an average umpire, but the strikeouts are a little high. This season, Gonzalez has a 4.40 ERA (tied for 45th highest with Tom Hallion and D.J. Reyburn). His umpire WHIP is 1.34 WHIP (higher than average). Batters with Gonzalez behind the plate have a .242 / .317 / .394 batting line, averaging 8.4 hits per 9 innings, 3.6 walks per 9 (very high) and 9.4 strikeouts per 9 innings. Yearly trends back up Gonzalez’s 2019 season, because he had a 4.37 ERA and 1.42 WHIP in 2018. In what matches a baseball trend, the rest of the numbers also went down from his 2018 numbers. In 2018, batters had a .259 / .334 / .428 trend. The lower slugging is a little strange given the baseball, but it is not something that alarming.
Replay wise, Gonzalez has had eight calls go to the bunker in Chelsea in 2019. Of those eight, six of them were upheld and two were overturned (a .750 batting percentage).
Gonzalez made his MLB debut on May 17, 2010 between the Arizona Diamondbacks and Florida Marlins at Sun Life Stadium. This is his second Division Series assignment, having done the National League Division Series in 2016 between the Dodgers and Nationals. In what has been an oddball, going into the 2019 season, Gonzalez had not ejected a player or coach since May 30, 2016 (Terry Francona). This season, he has three (Ron Gardenhire on June 15; Keon Broxton on August 25 (when Broxton threw his gloves against the Yankees); and September 19 of Mike Montgomery). Montgomery made some post-game comments about Gonzalez, calling him unethical. The calls made by Gonzalez were still correct.
Todd Tichenor (No. 13 – HP Game 2)
Where Manny Gonzalez’s 2019 numbers were backed up mostly by his 2018 numbers, we have a problem with the Game 2 umpire. The numbers for Todd Tichenor between 2018 and 2019 are so different that there has to be some questions in what happened. Theoretically, in the juiced ball 2019, Tichenor’s numbers should go more in favor of the hitters. Not in this case. In 2018, Tichenor had a 4.48 ERA in 30 games, backed by a 1.33 WHIP, 8.4 H/9, 3.5 BB/9, and 8.6K/9. The batters had a line of .246 / .319 / .414. These numbers would support true hitter’s umpire. Switching to 2019, Tichenor had a 4.21 ERA (53rd of 89), 1.24 WHIP, 8.0H/9, 3.2BB/9, and 9.1K/9. Other than the strikeouts, every other number went down, including a .238 / .308 / .411 batting line. This reeks of juiced ball in terms of strikeouts, but um, after that, there is no answer.
In terms of replay, Tichenor has not had such a wonderful season as Gonzalez. 16 plays have gone to the Chelsea bunker and six have been overturned, resulting in a .625 batting average in the replay booth.
The native of Lincoln, Nebraska made his MLB debut in an interleague game between the Toronto Blue Jays and Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on June 8, 2007. This is his fourth Division Series and his second home plate assignment in one. Coming into the 2019 season, he had 29 ejections and this season he added 3 (including Ron Gardenhire). Now, like Gonzalez, Tichenor had gone three years since his last ejections. The last four ejections were notable because they had been four Yankees as part of the brawl with Toronto started by J.A. Happ and Luis Severino on September 26, 2016. Those are the only Yankee ejections of his career.Embed from Getty Images
Gary Cederstrom (No. 38 – CC – HP Game 3)
Stereotypically, you’d think the crew chief would work Game 1 as the best umpire of the crew. However, this is not the case. MLB tends to prefer the crew chief work the third game of the series because it is considered the most crucial and they want the best umpire working the plate in Game 3. Cederstrom is also the veteran of the group by a significant margin. Cederstrom is in his 31st season as a major league umpire, having made his MLB debut on June 2, 1989 at the original Comiskey Park. Technically we are getting a Cederstrom-chiefed crew for the second straight series as his regular season crew worked the one in Arlington.
Cederstrom umpired the Friday game of the Yankees/Rangers series. He is the definition of pitcher’s umpire. He is pretty fair, but he leans towards pitchers. He of course, has a no-hitter to his name, Johan Santana on June 1, 2012 (and yes, by definition of rules in 2012 and 2019, it is a no-hitter). Cederstrom in 2019 has a 3.89 ERA (69th of 89) and 1.36 WHIP. Batters have a 9.1 H/9, 3.2 BB/9 and 8.3K/9. That last one is bizarrely low for a pitchers ump, but it is what happened. 8.3K/9 is really low for any umpire. Batters have a .260 / .327 / .408 batting line with Cederstrom behind the plate. Kind of a signal that his zone leads to more bat on the ball. His 2018 numbers were pretty similar in comparison to 2019. Replay-wise, Cederstrom had 13 calls go back to Chelsea, with four being overturned (a .692 batting average).
Cederstrom, age 64, is working his ninth Division Series, most recently before this was just last year. Strangely, none of them involve the Yankees. Cederstrom has also mellowed out as he’s gotten older. Coming into the 2019 season, Cederstrom had only 40 ejections. He leaves the 2019 season with only 41. He had the first ejection of the season (Eric Thames) on March 29. None after. As for former Yankees, he has not tossed a Yankee in over 20 years. On August 6, 1999, he tossed Joe Girardi and Jason Grimsley in a brawl with the Mariners. The only other was Paul O’Neill on June 2, 1995 for balls and strikes.