Throughout the 2013 regular season, Joe Girardi has done a great job of getting the most out of the New York Yankees, and I have previously stated that he should be rewarded for that with the AL Manager of the year. But despite this great managerial year, Girardi has still managed to make a number of missteps with his bullpen during the last few weeks that could end up costing the Yankees their playoff livelihoods.
Another one of these dreaded missteps occurred on Friday night, and again with one of Girardi’s favored relievers when Preston Claiborne allowed the decisive grand slam to Jarrod Saltalamacchia, in the process losing a game that sent the Yankees two games behind the Tampa Bay Rays for the second AL Wild Card spot.
Some may say that the blame for this loss shouldn’t be pinned directly on Claiborne as he inherited runners on first and second base and no outs, but I disagree and believe that it should result in Claiborne not being used in seventh or eighth-inning situations any longer.
Claiborne was specifically in the wrong for last night’s loss because of the fact that his one and only job on the Yankees roster is to get not allow runners to score when he comes on the mound. He both failed that directive miserably and took all life out of a game that was tilting in the Yankees’ favor.
Claiborne could be forgiven for allowing one runner to score during last night’s game, but but allowing both runners he inherited to score and two extras is an inexcusable offense for a team that needs every win it can get.
Furthermore, bringing in Claiborne in this tight situation was not smart because of how poorly he has done in both August and September. In August, Claiborne appeared in eight games, pitching 10.1 inning to a dreadful 5.23 ERA. But things have only gotten uglier as the games gained more importance in September, as he has allowed a .563 BAA and 30.86 ERA in 2.1 innings pitched over four games.
Girardi should make one vow for the betterment of the Yankees’ playoff hopes: not to throw Claiborne back into the ring of fire that is the seventh and eighth innings. Instead he should be mixing and matching pitchers before handing off the eighth and ninth innings to David Robertson and Mariano Rivera.