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Ned Yost’s bullpen management strikes again

Royals Tigers Baseball

Ned Yost


Royals manager Ned Yost has, at times, caused one to scratch one’s head with his bullpen management. Another head-scratcher occurred in the sixth inning of Sunday afternoon’s game against the Red Sox.

The Red Sox put their first two hitters on base with singles against Royals starter Jason Vargas. After Vargas, with the left-on-left match-up, got David Ortiz to fly out, Yost brought in Aaron Crow. Nothing against Crow, who has had a decent season, but seeing as contact is something one wants to avoid in that situation, bringing in the reliever with the 13.7 percent strikeout rate -- the ninth worst among qualified relievers and the worst in the Royals’ bullpen -- seems sub-optimal.

Crow did manage to get a strikeout, but it was sandwiched between a walk of Yoenis Cespedes to load the bases and a home run to Daniel Nava, which unloaded the bases. After the game, Yost said, “It’s frustrating that we were one out away from getting to Kelvin Herrera.” Herrera owns a 21.5 percent strikeout rate.

More, via Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star:

Asked why he didn’t just use Herrera in that spot then, Yost said: “Aaron Crow’s inning is the sixth inning. Kelvin’s is the seventh.”

— Andy McCullough (@McCulloughStar) September 14, 2014

Ned Yost said he chose Aaron Crow for the sixth because he wanted a strikeout. Crow strikes out 5.0 batters per nine.

— Andy McCullough (@McCulloughStar) September 14, 2014

When analysts criticize the current bullpen management zeitgeist, this is why. Most managers are beholden to established roles rather than remaining fluid and flexible, using their best relievers in the most important situations instead.

The Royals dropped the game to the Red Sox, and the Tigers won against the Indians, which means the Tigers push their AL Central lead to 1.5 games with 14 games remaining.

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