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Archive for May 28th, 2011

During his tenure as Yankees’ manager, Joe Girardi has adopted a formulaic approach to using the bullpen. During the early part of the season, his equation for winning was based on three variables: Joba Chamberlain in the seventh, Rafael Soriano in the eighth and Mariano Rivera in the ninth. However, Soriano’s injury poked a hole in the formula, causing Girardi to rejigger the components.

Luis Ayala, not David Robertson, was called upon to get the Yankees out of a bases loaded jam in the sixth inning (Photo: AP).

In order to fix his broken equation, Girardi moved Chamberlain to the eighth and David Robertson to the seventh. By doing so, however, he created a much larger void earlier in the game. Last night’s loss to the Mariners was the first manifestation of this formulaic deficiency.

After five innings, A.J. Burnett was nursing a 3-2 lead, but had thrown 97 pitches. As a result, Girardi decided to go to his bullpen, citing Burnett’s five walks and the two runs scored by the Mariners in the fifth. Considering that four of the walks came in the first two innings, and the two runs scored on ground ball outs after a cue ball double by Ichiro, this reasoning seemed to ignore not only the context of the game, but the current state of the Yankees’ bullpen.

We just thought we’d go to Boone for one out, and then go to Ayala and try to set it up for Robertson, Chamberlain and Mo.But we didn’t get there.” Joe Girardi, quoted by the LoHud Yankees Blog, May 28, 2011

With Burnett lifted, Girardi turned to a combination of Boone Logan and Luis Ayala to face the bottom of the lineup. According to Girardi, he figured that the combination of the two relievers would be able to handle the weaker portion of the already anemic Mariners’ batting order. Of course, Burnett probably could have as well, but once you get past that decision, Girardi’s assumption is a fair one. However, once the duo loaded the bases with no outs, it was time to break from the formula. Unfortunately, Girardi did not.

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