The main task for any coach or manager, regardless of the sport, is simple enough. That is, put your team in the best position to win. Obviously, not every maneuver is going to pay off. But the idea is to make the correct decision and then let the chips fall where they may.
Joe Girardi made a bad decision on Sunday night and there’s a great chance he cost the Yankees a win they really needed in the process. The Yankees had taken a 2-1 lead in the top of the ninth inning on a Brian McCann home run. Girardi then called on closer David Robertson to preserve the lead. While the initial reaction might well be that there’s nothing to criticize Girardi about in making this move, I see evidence that indicates he totally deserves being called on the carpet.
David Robertson almost never pitches on three consecutive days. Going back to the start of his major league career, he’s only done so on three occasions, twice this season and once last year. Robertson also had to throw 35 pitches on Friday evening, and followed that up with 11 more on Saturday. Perhaps this isn’s a major workload for some relievers. But the mere fact that Robertson have done this so rarely certainly indicates it’s not an ideal scenario for him. And it’s worth noting that the last time he did so resulted in a blown save. Now he’s blown saves twice in a row under these conditions. Considering how rarely he throws in this scenario, along with the fact two of his four blown saves for the entire year were in this situation, it’s pretty clear this isn’t the optimum spot for Robertson.
Of course, if there were no other options, Girardi would be blameless. But there’s the rub. Dellin Betances had worked a very clean eighth inning, and he was fresh. Betances had worked just twice since September 6th, and wasn’t used on Saturday. Betances is also very used to pitching more than one inning, having done so 36 times this season.
This isn’t a second guess. I tweeted before Robertson threw even one pitch in the bottom of the ninth that Girardi was making the wrong move. Don’t get me wrong, it’s entirely possible Betances might have been defeated as well. But the bottom line is that Girardi did not put his team in the best position to win. And in the process, he likely put a finish to whatever faint playoff hopes the Yankees still maintained.
No one’s perfect. I prove that on a regular basis with my selections. When I make a poor decision that costs my clients money, I deserve any criticism that’s tossed my way. On the other hand, it doesn’t mean I’m lousy at my job just because not all the calls I make produce victories. Likewise, I’m not calling Joe Girardi a bad manager. In fact, considering how hamstrung he’s been with this clunky Yankees roster, I would submit Girardi has done a heckuva good job keeping the team in the hunt this long. Nevertheless, he blew it on Sunday night by either ignoring the data or simply being unaware of it. Either way, it was a screwup and it proved very costly to his team.
Split city on the Sunday football, so the weekend wound up at a nondescript 7-6 on the gridiron. There were no bad beats nor lucky winners, as none of my games were close on the number either way. So basically a wheel spinning weekend, but no damage done either.
I’ll be sending out early plays for the coming weekend over the next couple of days and then adding as warranted throughout the week. You can join me and receive all my plays by capitalizing on a solid six-week special I’m presently offering. Use the “buy now” feature on this page to get subscribed or email me directly at email@example.com if you’d like more detailed information.
The two NFL free plays split with the Bengals winning and the Vikings getting smoked. Tonight’s comp is on the diamond.
09/15 04:10 PM MLB (901) WASHINGTON NATIONALS at (902) ATLANTA BRAVES
Take: (902) ATLANTA BRAVES +110
Stephen Strasburg is one of the better pitchers in all of baseball. He’s got great control, pure swing and miss stuff and can be absolutely dominating when he’s got his best stuff. Yet, in spite of the fact the Nationals are going to win the NL East and might well be playing well into October, Strasburg is stuck at .500 with a flat 11-11 ledger. Being one who’s metrically inclined, that 11-11 is pretty misleading. But for whatever reason, Strasburg continues to be unlucky as far as the W/L record is concerned.
Part of Strasburg’s problem is his weird record against the Atlanta Braves. One would think this should be an ideal opponent for Strasburg. The Braves have a bunch of grip it and rip it players who have trouble making consistent contact. Strasburg is about as good as it gets when it comes to collecting K’s. But he just cannot beat this team, and in fact, his numbers against the Braves are pretty mediocre.
Strasburg has faced the Braves four times this year, and Nats are 0-4 in those games, with Strasburg absorbing three of the losses. Over the past two seasons, the Nats are 2-7 when Strasburg pitches against the Braves. The two wins didn’t involve Strasburg. He was ejected after one inning in one of those games, and pitched only two innings in the other Washington win. Make no mistake, the Braves are Strasburg’s main nemesis.
Ervin Santana goes for the Braves tonight, and this guy has been money in the bank at home. The Braves have won each of his last eight home starts with Santana standing 7-0 in that stretch. His numbers against the Nats this season are not good at all, but that’s the only fly in Santana’s ointment right now.
This is do or die for the Braves. They’re not just one game over .500, and Atlanta is four games out of the wild card with only 13 opportunities for wins remaining. So make no mistake, tonight’s game is a must win for this squad. They’re off a wrong way sweep at Texas, which amounts to an unforgivable sin at this point. The Braves now play ten straight home games, and they’ve been a decent team in the host role. I think it’s realistic to offer that they need to win at least eight of these ten battles to have a chance at one of the two wild cards, so they’ve simply got to win tonight or it might be lights out.
Must win sure doesn’t mean will win. But the Braves have the right home pitcher going tonight in Santana, and for reasons I cannot figure out, Atlanta owns Strasburg. I’m going to try to coax the desperately needed win from the Braves tonight.