The New York Yankees fell to the Detroit Tigers yesterday, courtesy of a questionable decision made by Joe Girardi prior to the contest.
By Christian Kouroupakis
The lineup that helped the New York Yankees score the most runs in the American League through the first three games looked a little different yesterday, and it’s hard to pinpoint why.
Against Jordan Zimmerman, who has a career 2.77 ERA against the Bombers, manager Joe Girardi decided to sit Alex Rodriguez, Carlos Beltran, and Brian McCann, who were tremendous reasons why the Yankees scored 27 runs in the opening series.
“Quick turnaround,’’ Girardi said in his pregame press conference. “I’m trying to stay ahead of it. We had a long game Wednesday night, a day game yesterday. Guys probably didn’t get to bed until late here; 11:30 or 12 o’clock by the time we got to the hotel.”
Rest is absolutely important, especially when you have a lineup highlighted by waning veterans that saw a vital decline in 2015.
One example is Rodriguez, who was enjoying a career renaissance last season before an end of the year slump caused him to slash .191/.300/.377 in September and October.
Sitting A-Rod is logical. The soon to be 41-year old struggled mightily in the opening series against the Houston Astros, slashing .200/.385/.200 while striking out three times in ten at bats.
The slugger also had trouble catching up to an average fastball, so sitting the righty against a righty after the veteran played three games in a row was completely justified.
Sitting Beltran, the only one with a track record vs Zimmerman, and McCann, who slashed .455/.538/.818 with a homer in the first series, made fans across Yankee nation cringe.
Girardi is still one of the best managers in the game, at least top ten, but a ballgame in April counts just as much as one in September, it just doesn’t feel that way. Throwing games away just can’t happen in a tight-knit division, and that’s exactly what the Yankee manager did yesterday.
There’s no reason why the McCann cannot stay in the lineup and get rest today in game two. There’s also no reason why Beltran, who has the most at-bats against Zimmerman, couldn’t DH after playing three games in a row.
In his ninth career start at first base, the former 1st round draft pick came off the bag a little too early in order to receive a throw from shortstop Didi Gregorius, granting Ian Kinsler an infield single in yesterday’s shutout loss.
Without a doubt that out is recorded with Teixeira at first base. Luis Severino finished the inning without a scratch, but adding to a 22-year old’s pitch count is not the best of ideas.
Porous defense and an offensive outburst by Miguel Cabrera proved to be problematic, but the offense didn’t give the Yankees fighting chance.
Another example of Girardi’s overmanagement involves their newest second baseman, Starlin Castro.
In the first series of the season, Castro slugged two home runs and drove in eight RBI in the comfortable eight spot in the lineup.
To refresh your memory, one of the most exciting parts about Castro in the Bronx was that he would be in a much better position to succeed, now that he wasn’t faced with crazy expectations.
In 46 games batting eighth in his career, Castro has a .344/.417/.945 with an OPS of .945, two home runs, and 20 RBI.
Well, Girardi moved him out of that spot and into the number three hole where he has a career average of .255 and has a .643 OPS.
The three-time All-Star fell out of favor with his former team because they tried, and failed, to channel his MVP potential earlier in the lineup.
Girardi needs to learn that he shouldn’t fix things that aren’t broken. Regardless of the intentions behind resting guys and shuffling around the lineup, it could come back to bite the Yankees when it counts.