By Ryan Hatch
NEW YORK — The Yankees, holding on to a 9-4 lead in the ninth inning Thursday night, were not in danger of losing the game.
Even with reliever Chris Martin—shaky of late with a 14.73 ERA in his last four games—pitching with one out and two runners on base.
Why, then, did manager Joe Girardi have closer Dellin Betances warming up in the bullpen? Might there have been a better option than Betances, given that any time a team’s regular closer doesn’t have to pitch, it’s usually best to let him rest?
“Not if it’s 9-7,” Girardi said after the game.
A reporter submitted that it was only 9-4, though.
“Well, OK, so the next guy gets a hit and it’s 9-5,” Girardi said. “And so we’re only one hitter away from the tying run, and that’s what you don’t want in that situation.”
But how about the wear and tear on getting Betances loose?
“Well if I don’t bring him in and we lose the game, how’s that wear and tear?” Girardi said. “Not too good. I’d be crucified.”
Fair enough. (And the Yankees won by the same score.)
But if going by that same logic, then it might have made sense to bring in Betances (a righty) in the eighth inning to pitch to the right-handed hitting Giancarlo Stanton, the league leader in home runs (25), who not long prior had planted one in the left field seats off starter CC Sabathia.
Instead, Girardi let reliever Justin Wilson (a lefty) pitch to Stanton, who induced a ground ball to first base to end the inning.
The subtext to it all?
It seems simple: Girardi has the relievers he trusts and those he doesn’t.
Once could probably guess rather easily which category each pitcher fits.