Yankees Joe Girardi and the hobgoblins of little minds

(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images) /

The Yankees are Contentious under Joe

Some might raise the objection that the Yankees have missed more playoffs than they have made in the last five years. But Girardi’s defenders would counter that he routinely leads his squads to more wins than they were projected to, based on the team’s talent.

More importantly, Girardi always has his teams in contention for the playoffs usually until the last weekend of the season. In the normal baseball world, making the playoffs most years and barely missing them when you do is considered at least a good job.

But when your own clothes proclaim that the only a championship season is a success, those accomplishments seem small.

Pitching In

And maybe they are in the Yankees universe. Worse, though, would be not preparing the team for the playoffs in case they make it. Yankees teams should always be prepared to be successful. Here again, Girardi’s consistency becomes visible…and valuable

As mentioned, Girardi is ever the utilitarian thinker. You can bet he has shifted his plans to the Wild Card game already, instead of focusing on winning the division. This might rankle some but is in the best interest of winning deep into the playoffs.

It is not a coincidence, for instance, that the Yankees are using a six-man rotation in September. Joe knows that no matter how a team gets into the playoffs, it has a much better chance of winning if it’s well rested.

And a Parade

That plan bore brilliant fruit in 2009. Joe wanted to go with CC on short rest in the World Series, and he was able to because he planned for it in September:

"But Joe Girardi is not worried about Sabathia, in part because the Yankees “slowed him down” toward the end of the regular said. He pitched 253 innings in 2008, but only 230 this season. “He’s been able to have extra rest and that’s why we feel good about it,” Girardi said. “We wouldn’t ask him to do something that we didn’t think he was capable of or that he (wouldn’t) have a chance to be successful at.”"

Joe’s consistent long-term approach was also pointed out in this article from nj.com:

"The Yankees used September to give Sabathia extra rest, in preparation for working on short rest in the playoffs. “I think that helps recharge a pitcher,” Girardi said."

And Sabathia’s comments from 2009 show how Girardi’s decisions are seen by the players he must trust, and must trust him:

"“I’ve had enough rest the last couple of months to feel comfortable enough to go out there and pitch on three days rest,” Sabathia said."

Failing to Prepare is Preparing to Fail

Looks like Joe is at it again, predictably. Using six pitchers right now undoubtedly makes it harder for the Yankees to win the division. But, if they can get through the Wild Card game, they will have a better chance of winning the following rounds.

Winning the division would be well worth the effort. But once the odds seem slim, pragmatic Girardi always feels it’s better to let the other teams kill themselves in the regular season, all the easier to kill them in the postseason.

And since consistency and predictability are intrinsically linked, we don’t have to wait to see who is going to start that one game playoff. Without question, Joe is using the six man rotation and day off on Thursday to set his pitching line-up through the WC and hoped for ALDS.

If we don’t know for sure today who is pitching that projected game, we will next Friday after the day off. Right now, assuming Joe uses his six man twice, Luis Severino looks on track to pitch the play-in game.