From Larry Brooks:
But the bullpen illustrates the most obvious difference between the past and present manager.
In 2005, three Yankees were among the top 11 in the AL in innings pitched by a reliever; in 2006, three Yankees were among the top nine; in 2007, two were in the top 13. Last year, in Girardi’s first season running the show, no Yankees relief pitcher was among the top 12.
This year, even with Chien-Ming Wang compromised and Joba Chamberlain unable to deliver consistent length, Alfredo Aceves ranks highest, at 12th in the league after last night’s four shutout innings in relief of Sergio Mitre that allowed the rest of the corps to, well, rest.
“The bullpen to me is something you really have to watch,” Girardi said. “You have to be careful that you don’t fall in love with one guy because then you wear him down and he no longer can be effective.
“The key is to be effective for the whole year, not two weeks or a month.”
Looking at total IP is a bit misleading, considering that some relievers have not been with the club all season. However, a closer look at each pitcher’s individual usage pattern suggests that Joe spreads the work around and tries to keep everybody fresh. Let us take a gander at the numbers for the 5 relievers currently in the pen that have not had their usage interrupted by injury. Remember that August still has 17 days in it, so the last number in each row will obviously be lower.
IP by month: 2.1, 5.0, 10, 11, 3.2
App. by month: 2, 7, 10, 9, 6
Robertson spent the first two months shuttling back and forth to SWB. Since sticking with the big club, he has averaged 10.5 innings per month and 9.5 appearances. As you can see, his usage for his two full months with the club has been very consistent.
IP by month: 6, 28.2, 13, 14.2, 4.2
App. by month: 1, 6, 8, 11, 6
Hughes was a starter for the first two months. His two months as a reliever are very similar in terms of innings pitched, although his appearances are increasing as he is used more as a one inning reliever. Again, the usage seems well conceived, without any real signs of overuse.
IP by month: 9.2, 11, 12.2, 9.2, 5
App. by month: 11, 11, 14, 12, 7
It does not get more consistent than that. He has been between 9.2 and 12.2 IP in each month, and is between 11 and 14 appearances a month. Appearances are expected to vary more for a lefty, who might be used frequently to get one batter.
IP by month: 0, 19.2, 13.2, 15, 9
App. by month: 0, 9, 9, 9, 3
Aceves came up in early May and has made exactly 9 appearances in each month since. He was used primarily as a long man in that first month, which explains the higher inning total for that month.
IP by month: 9.2, 11, 11, 11.2, 5.2
App. by month: 10, 10, 11, 12, 5
You probably get the point by now. Once again, the pattern of usage is startlingly clear.
To me, the numbers tell an obvious story. If Girardi was Torre-like in overusing a hot pitcher, you would see outlier months for some of the relievers, where they would have inflated innings or appearances totals due to being overused by the manager. Instead, Joe Girardi spreads bullpen work around efficiently and consistently, and sticks to a plan in terms of staying away from overuse. For the second consecutive year, his deft handling of the bullpen is paying dividends.
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