My Brief Take on the Eighth Inning

Alright, so it appears that Joba Chamberlain has lost the ever important eighth inning role. Frankly, it’s about time…but not for the reasons you’d think.

Obviously, Chamberlain hasn’t performed well as of late and taking him out of high leverage situations is a good idea. Until he proves different, Joba shouldn’t be used in high leverage situations. David Robertson is, apparently, getting a shot as the set up guy. I’ve always been a big fan of Robertson and I hope he flourishes in this role. However, I’d be just as fine if he didn’t get an extended shot. But, then again, I don’t know if Joba should keep getting the ball handed to him, Damaso Marte is hurt, and while Boone Logan is pitching well, I think we’re all waiting for the other shoe to drop. Trading for bullpen help is always a risky proposition and the only reliable piece–Joakim Soria–seems to cost way too much.

So, what should Joe Girardi do? The first thing he should do is not announce anyone as the eighth inning guy. There doesn’t need to be a special pitcher to do this since most middle relievers are volatile and just because a guy is named the eighth inning guy doesn’t mean he will escape this fate; Joba is an easy example of this.

Girardi needs to do something that seems rather intuitive and something he’s seemed to be good at lately: he needs to just play the hot hand. If that’s D-Rob, go with D-Rob. If it’s Joba, go with Joba. Hell, if it’s somehow Chan Ho Park, go with CHoP. If you have to mix and match with some of those guys and Boone Logan, do it. If it means using Mo for a greater than three out save every so often, do it. The role of the eighth inning is so incredibly overrated and if the Yankees can simply avoid falling into the silly cliche of having a defined set-up guy, they could gain a little bullpen success and save us all a giant headache.

Perhaps that’s what’s wrong with bullpen usage in today’s game. While I guess we can say the pitchers like having “defined roles”, current bullpen usage is relatively inefficient. Maybe if the Yankees can un-anoint the eighth inning, a little ball will get rolling (I seriously doubt this, but a guy can dream, right?).

3 thoughts on “My Brief Take on the Eighth Inning

  1. LeftyLarry

    This entire discussion is moot had we acquired LEE. Hughes moves to the 8th inning and Joba supplements with Robertson.
    Giving away Coke and Dunn (lefty relievers ,even good loogys are hard to find) and MArte’s second stint wioth the yAnkees has been very mixed.COnstant injury and ineffectivetiveness and an occasional sputr like we saw in the WS.
    Obviously keeping Montero is very nice, he’s clearly a special hitter but it’s easy to understanf Cashman’s thought process on Lee.
    He’ll cost a #1 pick next year anyway so was giving up Montero (Adams is talented but buried and MAcAllister is just one of 4-5 RH starters YANkees have in minors who are close) and retaining that #1 pick worth another WS?
    I think probalby yes.This team as currently constructed probably does not have enough relief pitching to win it all.

    • Moshe Mandel

      Do you remember the relief pitching in the postseason last year? Marte and Rivera were the only decent ones out there, and they won the World Series just fine.

  2. You say Girardi shouldn’t assign roles to non-closers, and just play the hot hand. Girardi would say he likes making his relievers comfortable so they can expect when they’ll go in.

    My take: I actually agree with Girardi here. It’s nice that he follows his own guidelines so it’s very easy to predict who will enter from the pen. Without roles, it’s a lot easier to disagree with the guy he picks because you don’t know who might come into the game.

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