Ned Yost’s bullpen management strikes again

24 Comments

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:

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.

Yasmani Grandal signs a four-year, $73 million deal with the White Sox

Getty Images
5 Comments

The first truly big free agent signing of the offseason has gone down: the Chicago White Sox just announced that they have signed catcher Yasmani Grandal to a four-year, $73 million deal.

Grandal, 31, was the best catcher available in free agency. He is coming off a fine year with the Milwaukee Brewers, with whom he had to settle for a one-year pact in 2019. He hit .246/.380/.468 with 28 homers and 77 driven in. It was his fourth straight season with 20+ homers. While his catching has been criticized due to some high-profile mistakes in the postseason, the two-time All-Star once again proved himself to be one of the best pitch-framers in the game if not the best. Between the bat and the glove he has a claim to being one of the best all-around catchers in baseball.

The signing leaves open the question of what happens to James McCann, who was himself an All-Star this year. It’s not that hard a question, of course, as Grandal is a far superior catcher to McCann in every respect. The Sox could make McCann a backup. Alternatively, they could try to trade him to fill other holes on the roster.

The White Sox finished 72-89 in 2019 but are showing signs of coming out of rebuilding mode and into contention mode. This signing pushes them a big step into that direction.