Following the Yankees 8-2 victory over the Baltimore Orioles Friday night, Joe Girardi won his 900th career game as Yankees manager. This season Girardi has brought this team over their expectations as they are right in the middle of the playoff race. It’s time for Girardi to get some love for the AL Manager of the Year.
Confidence in young players
The entire league knew that the Yankees were going to rely heavily on their young players this year. Guys like Gary Sanchez, Aaron Judge, Luis Severino, Jordan Montgomery and Greg Bird were going to play a major factor in the fate of the Yankees’ season and Girardi has pushed all the right buttons with them.
The success that Severino has had this season is remarkable, especially considering that Girardi didn’t know coming into Spring Training if Severino was going to be starter or reliever. After the win Friday against the Orioles, Severino improved to 13-6 on the season and with a 2.93 ERA. He has allowed just 4 runs in his last three starts in 21 innings and has solidified himself as the Yankees’ ace. Giving Severino the confidence to pitch and stretching his leash, Girardi has shown that he has pushed the right buttons with his 23-year-old.
We all saw what Gary Sanchez could do last season when he was called up in August. This season Girardi tinkered with the lineup around Sanchez and while being critical of the young catcher’s defense, Girard also decided to bench the catcher after a string of poor games behind the plate which has changed Sanchez’s season. Aaron Judge has also had his ups and downs this season and Girardi made the necessary move when needed to try to get Judge back on track.
Managing the bullpen
The decision to make Chad Green a fulltime relieve might be the best decision Girardi has made all season. Green has been dominant out of the bullpen which has allowed Girardi to turn to him when rookie Jordan Montgomery and veteran Jaime Garcia have been unable to give the Yankees length.
Girardi has also had to make the tough call with some roles in the bullpen. He removed Aroldis Chapman, who the organization just signed to a long-term deal, as the closer in August after the lefty struggled to close games out. He has since returned to the veteran, but Girardi has shown one thing this year with all of his players, he doesn’t care about hurting players feelings.
Girardi told Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury that he wanted both players to score at least 100 runs at the start of the season. Gardner now has 90 runs scored this season and is having a career year. Ellsbury, on the other hand, lost his job earlier in the season to Aaron Hicks, but has since reclaimed it. This was another tough move for Girardi since the Yankees have placed a large investment in the 34-year-old outfielder.
The Yankees have the right mix of veterans and rookies and the way Girardi has managed his veterans by giving them days off and playing rookies like Clint Frazier has really helped keep guys like Brett Gardner fresh down the stretch.
Girardi has the Yankees three games behind the Red Sox for first place in the division and up by four games for the first wild-card spot. They have had to endure injuries throughout the beginning of the season and they were able to get through them. He might not receive the votes that other managers will, but Girardi is right up there when talking about the manager of the year for the American League.
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