After seven brilliant innings by New York Yankee starting pitcher Javier Vazquez in Friday night's game versus the New York Mets, Joe Girardi did his usual routine.
He pulled out of the game a very effective pitcher who was cruising through a lineup all night long, giving up one very soft run in the top of the 1st inning.
Why did Girardi pull Vazquez?
Well, by God, Javier was over the magical 100 pitch count threshhold! Vazquez threw 109 pitches before being pulled.
Oh my goodness! The Yankees best starting pitcher over the last month was pulled out of the game during a very critical moment. The game was 1-0 Mets, and Vazquez was cruising, having not allowed a hit for five and a third innings!
And this was after Vazquez quieted the Mets bats earlier this season on one hit over six innings.
That mistake of pulling Vazquez based upon pitch count by Girardi COST the Yankees an opportunity to win that game.
And to make matters worse, Girardi brought in perhaps his most inconsistent pre-8th inning guy Chan Ho Park to start the inning. He put Park in the game ONE NIGHT after Park gave up two hits in a third of an inning in a loss to the Philadelphia Phillies.
In that game, Park relieved another reliever, Joba Chamberlain, who had replaced an effective starter in Andy Pettitte. Pettitte was relieved after throwing a whopping 105 pitches!
According the Michael Kay on the broadcast, Andy's pitch count was high.
Take him out!
Is that why Girardi took Pettitte out yesterday after 105 pitches? Pettitte could have AND SHOULD HAVE gone out for the 8th inning against Philadelphia.
AND VAZQUEZ SHOULD HAVE GONE OUT FOR THE 8TH INNING FRIDAY NIGHT.
Are 109 pitches really too much for one of the most durable pitchers (besides Roy Halladay and Mark Buerhle) in the entire sport? A guy in the 34 year old Vazquez, who has averaged 217 innings and 33 starts in each of his 10 full seasons in the majors?
That is flat out retarded. Girardi is not a good manager when it comes to pitching. That is surprising Girardi was a pretty good catcher. He is the same as every other manager in baseball, making the same moves with pitchers and trying to lose ballgames.
They do not follow the most basic rule in pitching.
It is also DelGrippo's Baseball Rule No. 1 to win games :
In a close game, if your starting pitcher is throwing well (and especially dominating the opposition) NEVER, EVER take him out due to an innings limit or pitch count.
Because as a manager, you know how your current pitcher is throwing, but you have no idea how your relief pitcher will throw. Is it a good day, or a bad day for them?
We don't know, but we do know our starting pitcher (who is usually at least 30 years old if they are throwing for the Yankees).
*This reminds me of the Seinfeld episode where George is going to get married to Susan. Kramer then tells Jerry all about the horrors of marriage, including the following exchange:
Kramer: Yeah, and you can forget about watching TV while you're eating.
Jerry: I can?
Kramer: Oh, yeah! You know why? Because it's dinner time. And you know what you do at dinner?
Kramer: You talk about your day! "How was your day today? Did you have a good day today or a bad day today ? Well, what kind of day was it? I don't know, how 'bout you, how was your day?"
Kramer: It's sad, Jerry. It's a sad state of affairs.
The same exchange can be used in the sad state of pitching affairs in major league baseball. All around you see how young pitchers are doing well , and that more have sub 3.00 ERA's. But many of these hurlers are being conditioned to look over their shoulders towards the bailout bullpen at every hint of trouble from the fifth inning on.
But the sad state is when managers think that after 100 pitches, it is time to take your starter out of the game, and never go above 120. This is because some guy who never played the game suggests that pitchers will be injured for life it they do.
And if your starter IS OUT due to some reason, like getting hit hard or has been replaced by a pinch hitter, and your first relief pitcher is pitching well, NEVER, EVER take him out to bring in your 7th inning, 8th inning or closer (unless it is Mariano Rivera).
Same reason above, you know how your current pitcher is performing and you do not know how the next guy will do.
When relief pitchers have good days, everyone is happy. But why take the risk? That is why they are relievers - they really aren't great pitchers.
But when relievers have bad days, and they oftentimes do, the team usually loses the game. Most of the time when relief pitchers give up runs, games penciled in the win column turn into losses. Or as Girardi has shown the Pettitte and Vazquez games, he takes a one run deficit and makes it into a game you never will win.
Maybe, just maybe they turn into games you barely squeak out but use up your entire bullpen by playing the idiotic matchup game.
And the matchup game is because lefty pitchers supposedly can only get out left handed hitters, and righty pitchers can supposedly only get out right handed hitters.
And that is why (as I mentioned earlier) relievers are not good pitchers because they can pretty much only get out the same side hitter. They never had the pitches to make it as a starter.
That is why starters should pitch longer than seven innings and 100-110 pitches. They are your better pitchers. They should pitch more, especially when they are in their 30's and have been involved in the majors for a decade as have Pettitte and Vazquez have been.
No way Vazquez should be taken out of Friday night's game. Girardi cost the Yankees an opportunity to win that game. I have much more confidence in Vazquez (after throwing 5.1 consecutive hitless innings) pitching the 8th and, even the 9th, innings than I do some middle reliever guy.
And that includes Joba Chamberlain.
A team today should only have ten pitchers - five starters, a closer, and four guys who can get out both right handed and left handed batters and pitch multiple innings. One of those four needs to be a five+ inning type guy (a sixth starter)- in case there is an extremely long extra inning game.
I ask you, "is it too much to think that a pitcher can't throw 15 pitches per inning? That equates to 105 pitches for a seven inning game. Then why can't he go two more innings than the usual seven if he feels good, his legs are strong and he is dominating the opposition?
The biggest knock on the "abuse of pitchers" was that the pitches they threw when tired is what led to injuries. Vazquez (and Pettitte*) did not appear tired after seven innings. So why take them out, and lose those games?
* I do understand a little about Pettitte as the Yankees are a little worried because his rib cage injury from last season has begun to act up again . The Yankees may think it might be a little more serious than just a pull .
Is is that hard? Or is everybody scared of what the agents will think? Are the GM's who let this craziness continue worried too much about the money lost if a pitcher gets hurt?
Are wins and losses important?
As I said earlier, it is not just Girardi who makes this terrible blunder time after time. Zack Greinke's bullpen has blown at least three games for him this year, Tim Lincecum's bullpen blew several of his early starts.
Just yesterday, The Philadelphia Phillies bullpen blew a win for Cole Hamels . The Phillies bullpen is a sad group of pitchers who should be the poster children for complete game advocacy.
But Hamels had thrown 117 pitches by that time, and the Phillies had a five run lead with two innings to go. As the PAP guys say, "the game is in the bag, why abuse the starting pitcher?"
It is not pitch counts or innings workloads which hurt pitchers arms. Josh Johnson of the Florida Marlins, the second best pitcher in baseball had Tommy John surgery at age 22. He was not abused via pitch count or innings increments, having a steady increase throughout his pro career.
Johnson was taken out of yesterday's game by manager Fredi Gonzalez, he of the double-switch lineup snafu's, removed Johnson after eight innings because he had thrown 117 pitches.
"If the pitch count had been 103 or 104, you've got to give him the opportunity to go back out there,'' Gonzalez said.
Johnson's last two pitches, his 116 and 117, were 96 MPH.
How about a 34 year old man in Javier Vazquez, who has a history of durability and was pitching great baseball?
Why take him out after 109 dominating pitches?
Now that the Yankees are in sole possession of first place, Girardi will try like hell to help his team lose games.
You can pitch count on it.