Joe Torre’s Flaw: Bullpen Management

I was recently reading The Yankee Years by Joe Torre and Tom Verducci and I came across this quote:

I was trying to do whatever I could to stay away from Mariano to have him for two innings the next day. Chamberlain got through the seventh with the low pitch count. Now my choice is to go with someone else in the eighth, but if I don’t get a clean inning, then I’ve got to get Mariano up, which was the one thing I was trying to avoid. I guess I never really had enough trust in everybody else down there to think that getting three outs in that spot is so simple

Before dissecting that quotation, let me give some background for you. This was game 3 of the 2007 ALDS where the Yankees were down 2-0 in games to the Cleveland Indians. Entering the 8th inning, New York lead 8-3 and had already used their set-up man Joba Chamberlain in the 7th, throwing 16 pitches. Torre made a critical mistake here by sending Joba back out to the mound to pitch the eighth. Up 5 runs, there was no reason to where Chamberlain’s arm out in a game that was close to out of reach. This wasn’t a two or three run game. It was a five-run game. Using Chamberlain for an inning is fine (especially, considering it was 5-3 at the time), but using him in the eighth was a big mistake. Eventually, Chamberlain faltered in game 4 and the Yanks lost the series. This can all be traced back to Torre’s unwillingness to use the rest of his bullpen. This was not something new in 2007 though. Thinking about Torre’s managerial style, I realized that he has faith in only a couple guys in his bullpen each year. The last sentence in that quote says everything. “I never really had enough trust in everybody else down there”. That’s a big problem over the course of a season and I decided to take a look into Torre’s problem managing his bullpen. Continue reading “Joe Torre’s Flaw: Bullpen Management”