Will Joe Girardi Change His Bullpen Philosophy?

Joe Girardi has often been criticized for playing it too much by the book when it comes to his handling of the bullpen. His tendency to make the righty/lefty move even when a pitcher is going well has frustrated many Yankees’ fans.

For Joe Girardi, its all hands on deck for the Yankees as they make one last push for the playoffs, starting in Toronto on Tuesday. (Photo Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY)

For Joe Girardi, it’s all hands on deck for the Yankees as they make one last push for the playoffs, starting in Toronto on Tuesday. (Photo Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY)

So now that Mariano Rivera is gone, will he change the way he builds the bridge with David Robertson as the closer?

The make-up of the ‘pen is a little different this year. Gone are Boone Logan and Joba Chamberlain, who normally pitched no more than an inning.

Right now Girardi has David Phelps,Vidal Nuno and Dellin Betances available among others. Phelps and Nuno both have had an opportunity to battle for a spot in the starting rotation, and Betances was once thought of as a future starter.

So will we see these guys have extended outings the way David Huff came in for Phil Hughes last year?

A look at the starting rotation shows that  C.C. Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda and Ivan Nova all saw their ERA jump significantly in the sixth inning in 2013. Sabathia’s was the highest at 8.06.

On the surface, even though Nuno, Phelps and Betances have the strength to consistently go multiple innings, the results don’t initially appear worth it. 

Nuno had a 3.00 ERA in his first inning of an appearance last year. His ERA in a second inning of an appearance ballooned to 6.00. Phelps’ ERA in his first inning was 7.15. Although Betances had a good spring, his ERA coming out of the ‘pen in 2013 was 10.80.  Of the three, Phelps performed the best in a second inning of work, when his ERA dropped to 3.27.

So why would Girardi consider using them the way he used David Huff for a significant part of Huff’s tenure? Because Phelps and Nuno both battled injuries last year and Betances’ enormous ERA came in only five innings of work.

And the good news is that he may not even have to. Sabathia seemed to find the answers this spring, and Nova was able to overcome his sixth inning struggles to pitch deep into games.

Kuroda is the one who may benefit the most from extensive bullpen help. With it, he may not fade the way he did late last season and give the Yankees a strong performance in the final month.

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Tags: David Phelps David Robertson Joe Girardi New York Yankees News Vidal Nuno

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