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Better late than never: Jeurys Familia is available for two innings tonight

Terry Collins

NEW YORK -- There was a lot of second-guessing of Terry Collins last night after Tyler Clippard put two men on in the eighth inning, leading to the Royals’ game-winning rally. People wondered why Collins didn’t go to Jeurys Familia for a two inning save.

Collins’ postgame comments stoked that controversy more, when he admitted that Familia pitching in the blowout that was Game 3 colored his decision making. Why pitch him on Friday anyway? Why go to him for a five-out save if you weren’t willing to use him for six?

Today Collins was asked about that. Part of what he said makes perfect sense. When asked if Familia is available for a six-out save, he gave a one-word answer: “yes.” Which, of course. It’s an elimination game. All hands on deck as they say.

But when he expanded on the decisions made the past two nights, he made a bit less sense:

Again, it’s easy to sit back and say, You should have done this after it didn’t work. Let me tell you something, we did that same scenario almost -- when we got Tyler Clippard and Addison Reed, we went 7, 8, 9. We won a lot of games using that scenario, and last night it didn’t work. So, you know, after it didn’t work, it’s easy, “Well, you should have used Familia.” Well, I used Familia in Los Angeles and I got crucified because I used him for a six-out save. And last night I got crucified because I didn’t use him for six outs. That’s the nature of the game. I’m not offended by that. That’s opinions. But we went with what worked for us, and it didn’t work last night.

I get a guy bristling at being second-guessed. But can someone -- anyone -- point to an example of Collins being “crucified” for using Familia for a two-inning save against the Dodgers in the NLDS? I can’t remember anyone taking any issue with that. The operative narrative the next day was “good for Collins for doing what he needed to do to win the game.” I’ll further note that Wade Davis saved last night’s game by getting six outs for the Royals. No one is crucifying Ned Yost over that today.

It can’t be easy to be a major league manager and no one likes to be criticized. But using Clippard was a mistake and using Familia the night before was a mistake. This is not hindsight. Many, many people were questioning these decisions before Clippard put two men on in the eighth inning last night.