26 Sep 2011
There seems to be some hand-wringing over the way Joe Girardi managed last night’s game. The thinking is that the Yankees could have knocked the Red Sox out of the playoffs with a win last night and therefore, Girardi should have gone to some of his better players in key spots. For example, pinch hitting for Romine or not using Scott Proctor. My question is, what happens if Girardi uses A-Rod as a pinch hitter last night and he hurts himself? The answer is that everyone would be killing him.
The fact is, the Yankees have only one thing to play for right now and that is having a healthy roster when the playoffs start Friday. Barring a miracle, the AL Wild Card is going to come out of the AL East which means the Yankees won’t even face the winner unless they advance to the second round of the playoffs. That means it is simply not worth worrying about at this point. They have wrapped up the AL East and homefield in the ALCS (if they make it) now it is time to focus on health.
So, I would fully expect Girardi to dial it way back for the regular lineup. Tonight’s lineup is a combo of regulars and bench players and I would expect Girardi to make it all bench players by the end of the game. I would expect someone like Brackman to start the game Wednesday and I wouldn’t expect to see any of the key bullpen guys more than once this series.
Some will argue that it is unfair to the game for Girardi to play less than his best at this point. I would argue the opposite. The Yankees have earned the chance to throttle back before the playoffs. They earned it by being the best team in the AL over 159 games. What happens in the wild card is up to Tampa and Boston, it’s time for the Yankees to focus on Friday.