Yankees manager avoids throwing pitchers three straight days
By Grace Raynor
NEW YORK -- Games are intensifying, series matter more and the buzz around how to keep pitchers healthy for the postseason is at its peak.
On Sunday, Yankees manager Joe Girardi took a few moments to shed some light on how he manages his own starting pitchers after the Matt Harvey saga with the Mets made national headlines. On Monday, Girardi was asked about what he does with his relievers to ensure that they're not overtaxed or unhealthy in the final stretch of the season. He has a simple policy.
"It's the thought process from the beginning -- I don't throw guys three days in a row," he said. "We think really hard about it. And that's kind of why I stay pretty steadfast to my rules about no more than two days in a row just because I want them healthy and strong in September."
Indeed Girardi has stayed true to his rule. No Yankees reliever has made three straight appearances all season, and as such, the Yanks have used 31 total pitchers this year, including the starters. No other team this season has refrained from using a reliever three straight days.
Girardi talked specifically about what he does with Dellin Betances, a two-time All-Star who leads all Major League relievers with 109 strikeouts.
After logging 90 innings in 2014, Betances has thrown 70 2/3 innings this season in 62 appearances. Part of the puzzle, Girardi said, is ensuring that pitchers like Betances get enough rest, but not too much.
"Dellin's just coming off three days off, and when you can get them that, you try to get them that," Girardi said. "And there's that fine line where they can have too many days off where they're not sharp, so you're always weighing that. Are we going to need him three out of the next four days or do I use him today just to get him [an inning]?"
Girardi's strategy seems to have some merit to it. Since he became the Yankees' manager in 2008, the club's number of September/October regular-season wins (117) is second-best in the Majors.
Girardi will need his dominant bullpen to stay healthy as the Yanks continue to make their playoff push, and if that means extra rest, that's what he'll do.
"I think if you have your days off, I think sometimes you can work a few more innings, in a sense," he said. "If you give them good, sufficient amounts of rest periods and they don't throw necessarily a lot of pitches in certain innings, I think you can manage it."
• On Monday, the Yankees brought Chris Capuano up to the Majors again from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Jacob Lindgren has been reinstated from the seven-day Minor League disabled list, recalled and put on the 60-day DL. He'll have left elbow surgery.
Grace Raynor is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.