COMMENTARY | Does New York Yankees reliever Joba Chamberlain have some dirt on manager Joe Girardi? Is Girardi secretly infatuated with Chamberlain? Or does the Yankees skipper have a subconscious wish to derail the team's playoff chances?
These are about the only reasons I can come up with as to why Girardi continues to send Chamberlain to the mound in key situations. Granted, Chamberlain had been relieved (pardon the pun) of his duties as a late-inning option with the lead since midseason; but at this point he shouldn't be touching the ball unless the Yankees are winning by about 10 runs or losing by the same.
Chamberlain has entered plenty of games this season and completely shattered the team's chance to win. The proverbial icing on the cake may have come during the seventh inning of the Yankees most recent defeat on Sept. 19 versus the Toronto Blue Jays.
The Yankees were down just 3-1 after starting pitcher Hiroki Kuroda tossed six innings of three-run ball. The Yankees were not exactly out of it. It is true the Yankees offense was struggling, but they scored four runs on five pitches the night before so believing they could mount another comeback was not out of the question.
With that in mind, Girardi brought in Chamberlain and there was a collective sigh heard all across Yankee Universe. The once promising righty walked the first batter he faced and then allowed a single to Brett Lawrie.
On deck was left-handed hitting Adam Lind. Lind was 8-for-18 with a home run against Chamberlain leading up to the at-bat. Girardi had lefty Cesar Cabral warming in the bullpen. But, Girardi had not seen enough. Chamberlain's fourth pitch was a waist-high hanging slider which Lind easily deposited into the upper deck in right field to give the Blue Jays a 6-1 lead.
The notion of bringing in a pitcher who has demonstrated the inability to hold leads or keep games close on a consistent basis was questionable to say the least. The prospect of leaving him in the game during this situation was downright ridiculous. After the game, Girardi offered this beauty when asked why leave Chamberlain in that situation.
"Where do you want me to go?" He asked back.
How about anywhere except Joba? How about to the lefty Cabral who was ready to go? How much worse could Cabral have been in that situation?
Girardi continued to defend his decision according to the New York Post.
"(Chamberlain) used to pitch in a lot of close games. That's who he was. Tonight, he didn't get it done."
And Girardi was the only one who didn't see it coming. Girardi's reluctance to use his younger pitchers over players who are experienced yet unproductive is mind-boggling.
Girardi sticking with Chamberlain again and again could have very well sabotaged the entire season. Chamberlain has given up runs in 15 of 44 appearances this season. He did have two straight scoreless appearances leading up to this most recent implosion, but he had given up runs in three straight prior to that. He left the game with a 4.97 ERA, .271 BAA and a 1.68 WHIP. These are bullpen bench warmer numbers, not stats which should elicit a manager to put the pitcher into any game he wants to win.
The Yankees were already running out of time in their pursuit of a wild card spot and now sit 3.5 games back of both the Texas Rangers and Tampa Bay Rays with only nine left to play. Girardi's big mistake may have sealed the deal on a season without a playoff appearance.Chris Carelli is a freelance baseball writer/editor. He is a New York Yankees contributor published on Yahoo! Sports and has previously written and edited content for several online publications. Chris is also the Director of Content Strategy for Sportsideo. For more baseball commentary you can follow Chris on Twitter.
- Sports & Recreation
- Joe Girardi
- Joba Chamberlain
- New York Yankees