BALTIMORE — Buck Showalter compliments opposing managers about as often as his 2018 Orioles win games. Therefore, it’s possible that Aaron Boone just received the highest praise yet of his young managerial career.
“Look at the [American] League leaders in games pitched, and you won’t see any Yankees,” Baltimore’s skipper, who viewed Boone’s predecessor Joe Girardi as a blood rival, said on Friday. “That’s the sign of a well-managed bullpen.”
The Yankees defeated the terrible O’s again on Saturday, 8-5, after a rain delay and through some rain, with Masahiro Tanaka lasting a modest 5 ¹/₃ innings and giving up four runs, including three solo homers, thereby requiring Boone to do some managing. A total of four relievers teamed to record the final 11 outs while giving up one run to complete the Yankees’ fourth straight win, and still none of them can be found among the majors’ hardest-working folks.
David Robertson, who pitched the ninth inning, leads the Yankees with 27 appearances, and that ranks him outside the AL’s top 10. Next comes Aroldis Chapman with 24, which put him in 33rd place alongside eight other pitchers entering Saturday’s games.
Now, the obvious qualifier: Thanks to their myriad run-ins with bad weather, the Yankees have played just 55 games (counting their suspended contest with the Nationals on May 15), making them among the least busy teams in the industry. If the Yankees did have several pitchers among the league leaders (Detroit’s Joe Jimenez tallied his league-leading 31st appearance on Saturday, with Seattle’s Edwin Diaz at 30 entering the Mariners’ West Coast night game), that would represent quite the red flag.
So Boone gets his tip of the cap from his elder, Showalter, a former Yankees manager himself, and it’s on Boone to adhere to his guiding principles as the Yankees eventually catch up to their competitors in game action.
“It’s probably, I would say, one of the things we concern ourselves with most all the time is trying to be cognizant of getting guys up,” Boone said Saturday. “Being disciplined. Getting some guys rest when it’s not necessarily convenient and maybe they’re in some way good to go.
“I think we always try to, on some level, play the long game. So it’s one of the big things that we deal with every day.”
It helps, too, that the Yankees have such a potent offense, their 5.65 runs per game leading all AL clubs. Giancarlo Stanton broke out of another long funk to contribute a two-run homer, his 12th, while rookie Miguel Andujar contributed a two-run homer and an RBI double.
Said Dellin Betances, who pitched for the second straight game: “Obviously, we’ve been winning comfortable games at times.”
Furthermore, as Betances noted, “I feel like we have a lot of pieces that can fill in when some guys need a blow.”
Even with Tommy Kahnle and Adam Warren hitting the disabled list this season, the Yankees found help from Scranton-shuttle veteran Jonathan Holder (who allowed one inherited runner to score after relieving Tanaka in the sixth, then avoided further damage) and Nationals castoff A.J. Cole.
Thanks to the Yankees’ non-competitive games, Thursday’s postponement and their deep bullpen, Boone could turn for a second straight to the superb Chad Green, who enjoyed six days off between his May 25 outing and Friday. Green now stands at 23 appearances.
“I felt fresh [Friday], which was good,” Green said. “It was nice to get out there, for sure.”
“It’s definitely been a lot less, I feel,” said Betances, who at 23 appearances is on pace to fall short of the 70-plus level he hit from 2014-16. “It’s good.”
Postponement-fueled perception definitely factors in to the good feelings inside and outside the Yankees on this topic. If Boone can integrate his beliefs into the season, that perception will evolve into reality. And Boone will be worthy of even more commendation from Showalter.
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