Joe Girardi has never been a Tony La Russa kind of guy, putting relievers in and yanking them out, playing the matchups and all that jazz. Mariano Rivera is his closer. Joba Chamberlain is his setup guy. Everyone else comes in as needed.
So it seems like a notable thing that Joba Chamberlain didn’t get the call in the eighth inning last night in a close game. Instead, after Javier Vazquez waked Michael Brantley to lead off the inning, Girardi went with Dave Robertson to face Asdrubal Cabrera and Boone Logan to face Shin-Soo Choo. Robertson induced a double play and Logan struck out Choo.
So, did Joba lose his job as the Yankees’ setup guy? Girardi isn’t having it:
“I don’t want to start a thing, ‘who’s our eighth inning guy?’ . . . I’m not saying that I’m handing it over to Joba every time we go into the eighth. I’m going to look at things. I mean, that’s my job. I liked the matchup of Robertson against Cabrera. And I liked Boone against Choo.”
Which makes some sense. Simply giving Joba a night off after a series of shaky appearances makes sense too. But this is New York, kiddos, and nothing is ever this simple, no managers’ explanation ever taken at face value. The Yankees are cruising right now — which is kind of boring — and as soon as A-Rod hits his 600th homer, the beat guys are going to need some red meat on which to chew.
Whether he meant to or not, Joe Girardi just gave them some in the form of Joba Chamberlain.
It was only a matter of time before Mike Trout courted another all-time record, and on Saturday, he found himself in elite company with his 25th and 26th home runs of the season. He put the Angels on the board with a 429-foot blast in the first inning, depositing an 0-1 fastball from the Orioles’ Kevin Gausman into the left field bleachers:
In the third inning, with the Angels up 2-1, Trout returned to tack on another insurance run. He targeted Gausman’s slider for his second solo shot of the evening and cleared the center field fence with a 418-footer to bring his total to 26 home runs on the year.
Trout has mashed at a staggering .339/.471/.596 clip since his return from the disabled list last month, and Saturday’s totals helped mark his sixth consecutive season with at least 25 home runs. That’s a record few have matched before their age-26 season; in fact, only Hall of Fame sluggers Eddie Mathews and Frank Robinson have ever pulled it off.
Assuming he continues to rake in hits and plate appearances over the last six weeks of the regular season — and there’s nothing to indicate that he won’t — Trout is in line to join elite company of a different kind. The 26-year-old entered Saturday’s game with a 206 OPS+ (park-adjusted on-base plus slugging). According to MLB.com’s Matt Kelly, that means Trout’s hitting at a better clip than the average Major League player by a full 106 percent. Should he finish the year with a 200 OPS+ and 502 plate appearances or better, he’ll be the first player to do so since Barry Bonds obliterated the competition with his 263 OPS+ in 2004.
The Blue Jays acquired right-hander Tom Koehler from the Marlins in exchange for minor league right-hander Osman Gutierrez and cash considerations, the clubs announced Saturday. Koehler is in his sixth year with the Marlins and stands to make $5.75 million in 2017. He’ll be arbitration eligible in 2018 and is set to enter free agency by 2019.
The 31-year-old right-hander struggled to a 7.92 ERA, 4.7 BB/9 and 7.1 SO/9 over 55 2/3 innings with Miami in 2017. He was optioned to Triple-A New Orleans in late July, where he rebounded with a 1-1 record in seven starts and whittled his ERA down to a 1.67 mark. The Blue Jays have yet to establish Koehler’s role within their organization, but are hoping to see a turnaround from the righty when he breaks back into the big leagues.
Gutierrez, 22, was assigned to Single-A Greensboro on Saturday. He has yet to find his footing in the minors, and exited a 78-inning stint with Single-A Lansing after racking up a career-worst 7.85 ERA and 8.2 SO/9. His lack of control is particularly alarming, with a 6.2 BB/9 that dwarfs the 2.0+ BB/9 of seasons past, but he still has plenty of time to figure out his mechanics before reaching the Show.