The recent formation of a three-headed monster at the back end of the New York Yankees bullpen has led to decreased value of distance from starters.
Putting three of the top relievers in baseball on the same team is fun; no one can deny that. That is exactly what the New York Yankees have. So why wouldn’t a manager let them do their jobs and utilize a distinct advantage to the fullest?
Fans have frequently complained of short leashes on the starting pitches when all three – Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller, Aroldis Chapman – are available, but if Joe Girardi is not playing for today, what is he playing for?
Put it this way: there is a difference between Joe Girardi and an “average joe”, which is why he is paid millions to manage. Particularly managing a team grasping for wins, managing for tomorrow means losses on the current day.
Last night, Ivan Nova was cruising through six innings of one-run ball and held a 2-1 lead. Nova’s pitch count was in spectacular shape at 62. However, Girardi opted for Betances in the seventh.
Let’s take a poll. Would you rather have Ivan Nova, having already given up a 1-0 lead earlier on, finish the game or bridge the gap? Or three relief pitchers who have combined for 73 punch outs in 40 innings and a 1.80 ERA this year?
Any combination of Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller, and Aroldis Chapman can be relied upon on any given night. They give you the absolute best chance to shut the door on a game.
A common argument has been made about burning them out, not having them the next day, and siding against starters that are on a roll. In short, worrying about tomorrow is not a luxury the Yanks have after a subpar start. In addition, if you had to put your life’s savings on a game, are you extending Ivan Nova or dropping the hammer?
The Yankees prefer the hammer as they desperately try to make up ground in the AL East. That monster paid dividends again last night as the three combined to strike out five A’s over three shutdown innings, closing out a Yankee win.
If anything, this takes stress off the starters and can ultimately produce more potent results. The last two games, both Yankee wins, have seen the starters combine for 12 innings of five hit, two run ball. In both games the starters were credited with wins, in both games the three-headed monster was utilized effectively, and in both games, the starters could have gone deeper.
When a mediocre starting staff, like the one the Yankees possess, is pressured to go seven innings a night, adverse results will be on the table. If those same pitchers know they have a lethal weapon waiting behind them should they run into trouble, an immediate psychological advantage is gained. In this case, they can pitch freely and work deeper into games.
Say what you please about over-managing and overusing, but if short leashes result in wins, the Yankees will be the first to sign up. After all, putting together a historic bullpen is an opportunity to be seized and not squandered.