There's been a lot of debate in the game recap comment section about the decision to pull Nathan Eovaldi in last night's game, and justifiably so. It turned out to be a decision that negatively impacted the Yankees' chances to win the game in a major way. Obviously we're all looking at this with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight and some form of pre-existing biases against both Eovaldi and Joe Girardi. But there are numbers to support Joe's decision, numbers that a few commenters brought up. Just food for thought, but here is how Eovaldi's slash line against trends through his pitch count:
- Pitches 1-25: .349/.355/.509 - Pitches 26-50: .218/.282/.277 - Pitches 51-75: .295/.327/.442 - Pitches 76-100: .391/.476/.464
At 86 pitches, Eovaldi was right in the middle of the stretch where he tends to give up the most damage. Opposing hitters go for the highest average, highest on-base, and second highest power output against him in that pitch range. Add to that the .365/.450/.424 slash line against him when batters are facing him for the third time in a game and the .353/.411/.480 line that lefties have against him, and it becomes clear why Joe made the move he made.
Josh Reddick was a very dangerous batter at that point in the game, and Joe knew that because he's got access to all the same numbers we do. In a 1-run game with a well-rested bullpen, he made the move that was strategically correct based on what Eovaldi has shown in previous starts. It didn't work out when the next batter came to the plate, but that's baseball. Chasen Shreve wasn't going to go scoreless for the rest of his career, and he's a better option against righties than Eovaldi is against lefties.
The argument for giving Eovaldi a chance to keep going and teaching him how to work through those late-game hurdles is a valid one, for the future. The Yankees do need Eovaldi to improve the third time through the order and be more economical with his pitches to pitch deeper into game. But a 1-run situation like last night's was not the ideal scenario for those lessons, and I guarantee there would be plenty of us who would be cursing Eovaldi and Joe today if he would have left him out there and Eovaldi would have given up more hits and runs. It sucks that things worked out the way they did, but when you consider everything, I still think Joe made the right call because he made the call that gave his team a better chance to win.