Toronto at New York, May 10-11

Tuesday, May 10 2022 @ 05:00 AM EDT

Contributed by: Magpie

These guys again.

The Yankees ran into a couple of days of rainouts, which backed up their rotation by a couple of days. They ended up starting Cole and Montgomery in Sunday's double-header, and Cortes yesterday. The Jays will see the other two starters, Severino and Taillon, and the Bombers will have to improvise on Thursday against the White Sox.

It looks like the roster should soon be assuming the form it was expected to take, with the imminent return of Jansen, Biggio, and Ryu (and the subsequent reduction to 13 hitters and 13 pitchers.) The hitters will be the nine RH batters who will start the most games: Jansen, Guerrero, Espinal, Bichette, Chapman, Gurriel, Springer, Hernandez with Kirk getting the most DH starts. They're supported by four LH batters (Collins, Biggio, Tapia, Zimmer) who will spell them off.   It does seems like strange roster construction to me, but I guess an extra outfielder is no more redundant than an extra infielder would be.  I suppose it should be noted that both Tapia and Zimmer are better hitters than they've demonstrated since coming here, I said the other day that Zimmer was a Jonathan Davis type, but better than Davis at everything but hitting. My bad - Zimmer is actually better than Davis at everything, including hitting. It's just that he's hit even worse than Davis since coming to Toronto.

Here was something I suggested about the manager at the end of last season, that I'm basically going to repeat (with stylistic improvements, natch!)

Montoyo seems to like trying out stuff, just to see what might happen. Maybe it won't work, but maybe it will and we'll save it for future reference. He's managed almost 3,000 professional games - he knows how the game works - but he doesn't seem to have developed all of the fall-back, automatic in-game policies that most major league managers develop; all those things that they do automatically, both to make the job simpler and to fend off the relentless second-guessing that comes with the gig, (which is something that I think took Montoyo a little bit by surprise last year.) I think managers develop these automatic policies to spare themselves the burden and the trouble of thinking. "We pulled the pitcher because we always pull this pitcher after this many hitters." "We did this because that's just how we do it." It makes the decision for the manager - and every manager already has more than enough on his plate - and it also gives him something with which to answer any questions. But as late as 2021, Montoyo was still winging it, still just trying stuff, the way you can in the minors or with a non-contender because no one is paying all that much attention anyway. I think he likes doing it that way, and it's one of the things I like about him. But no, that might not be what you need to be doing if you're trying to compete in the AL East. In baseball, with great power comes great responsibility - it also comes with great pressure. It's going to be interesting to see how he responds to it. Will he back down a bit and be a little more more cautious and conventional, and manage by whatever book they've decided to use?

The return of Ryu will bump Stripling into the bullpen role currently being filled by Thornton. That will surely send Thornton to that same land where Merryweather, Saucedo, and Lawrence already reside. And I think we can already answer my question about game management when it comes to Montoyo's use of relief pitchers. Montoyo has definitely developed a set of policies for running his bullpen, and - you know you want it - it's Data Table Time! What's the Game Situation when a reliever enters the fray?

Pitcher      Games Ahead Tied  Behind
Romano    14   13    1    0
Cimber    13    8    5    0
Mayza    12    8    2    2
Garcia    12    7    5    0
Richards    12    5    2    5
Merryweather    12    4    2    6
Phelps    12    3    3    6
Thornton    9    1    3    5
Saucedo    4    0    0    4
Borucki    3    1    0    2
Vasquez    3    0    0    3
Stripling    2    0    0    2
Lawrence    2    0    0    2
Kay    1    0    0    1
Francis    1    0    0    1

Well, that's extremely straight-forward. Romano is the Closer. Cimber, Garcia, and Mayza are the guys who get the ball to him, and usually enter when the team is leading. (The four of them combined have made just two appearances, both by Mayza, when the team was trailing.) Phelps and Stripling will be called on when the team is behind - the Stripling role (filled by Thornton when Stripling is needed in the rotation) is for the guy who may have to work multiple innings. And the last two guys, Richards and Borucki, are Montoyo's flexible options, suitable for either situation, and most likely in response to who's available to work on a given day. I think, for example, that he's going to be reluctant to use Phelps - an older guy, with an injury history (who's actually returning from a season mostly lost to injury) - on consecutive days. Montoyo tried it just once so far this year and Phelps promptly coughed up the lead. We already know that Montoyo definitely doesn't like to use relievers three days in a row, which ought to create some opportunities when the team is ahead.

It's all obviously a lot more ordered and coherent than what was going on last year. I'm not sure if this is because Montoyo has decided to assign roles and stick with them, or if it's because he simply has a much better idea of what it is that he has to work with. Last year's bullpen began as a mystery and soon descended into chaos and disorder. As you surely recall, the year began with two guys (Dolis and Borucki) who had been effective parts of the 2020 bullpen; two guys (Mayza and Thornton) who had lost most of the 2020 season to injury; two guys (Romano and Merryweather) who hadn't yet established themselves as major leaguers; and two veterans (Phelps and Chatwood) brought in from outside. Despite a raft of injuries (Merryweather, Borucki, Dolis, Phelps, Chatwood) those guys and their replacements were pretty effective for about six weeks. But by the end of May, all was a shambles, save for Romano at the end of the game. (Even Mayza, who would have a very fine season, got kicked around some in May.) Romano settled into the Closer role, and Thornton was used mostly as Long Guy When We're Losing, but most of the other roles changed or evolved or mutated as the season went on: Chatwood, for example, was mostly used when the team was winning until he personally began seeing to it that the team was no longer winning. The same thing happened  with  Dolis.  Cimber upon his arrival was mostly used when the team was trailing, but fairly quickly  earned his manager's trust, and settled into the role he still has (get the game to the Closer.) Montoyo eventually concluded that he could generally count on Mayza and Richards as well. Most of the troops from the Buffalo Shuffle (or the Waiver Wire Wonders)  were more likely to be used when the team was trailing, although the shortage of options often required even some of these non-entities to try to hold a lead.

John Northey documented some of this last July; I've got the entire season, and the usual nicely formatted columns, though I'm not going to bother with the guys who made 5 appearances or less::

Pitcher       Games  Ahead Tied Behind
Romano    62    43   13    6
Mayza    61    35    9    17
Cimber    39    18    8    13
Dolis    39    19    8    12
Thornton    34    7    5    22
Richards    32    15    6    11
Chatwood    30    19    4    7
Saucedo    29    12    0    17
Castro    25    8    7    10
Borucki    24    11    2    11
Payamps    22    6    3    13
Merryweather    12    5    2    5
Pearson    11     3    0     8
Phelps    11     6    2     3
Hand    11    5    3     3
Barnes    10    5    1    4
Soria    10     6    2    2
Bergen    9     6    1     2
Murphy    8     2    1     5
Beasley    8    2    1     5
Snead    7    1    1    5
Kay    6     1    0    5
Cole    6     3    0    3
Edwards    6    1    1    4


Tue 10 May - Kikuchi (1-1, 4.35) vs Severino (2-0, 3.75)
Wed 11 May - Berrios (2-1, 5.34) vs Taillon (2-1, 2.84)