The KC Royals lost their second straight extra-inning game to the New York Yankees by the score of 5-4. Both games were painful losses that the Royals can’t afford at this point of the season. Did Ned Yost make a tactical error by refusing to use reliever Matt Strahm in the seventh inning?
Matt Strahm entered Wednesday’s game in the 13th inning, tasked with the difficult feat of retiring the Yankees without damage after Chris Young allowed runners on second and third with no outs to open in the inning.
The move enraged me, because if Matt Strahm was available, why didn’t Yost use him in the seventh inning when the Kansas City Royals held a 4-3 lead?
I immediately proclaimed KC Royals manager Ned Yost a moron for this move on Twitter:
Polite, aren’t I?
In my own defense, it was past 10 PM in Arizona and I was watching my second straight extra-innings loss to the Yankees. Like many Kansas City Royals fans I was frustrated by this turn of events.
"“I didn’t want him to use him,” Yost said. “It took everything that I could muster to get him up. The kid has never been back-to-back, he’s coming off Tommy John a couple years ago. This is all new territory to him. But again, it was to the point where we had to extend our boundaries a little bit.”"
There’s a few more facts to this reasoning. Strahm came back from Tommy John surgery in 2015 after tearing his Ulnar Collateral Ligament in 2014. He pitched 94.1 innings in 2015 and has already compiled 118.0 innings in 2016 between AAA and the KC Royals bullpen. He’s a got a month to go in the season and could possibly see more action in the playoffs.
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The worst thing Ned Yost could do is blow out the arm of a promising starting pitcher while chasing a miracle playoff run. A second Tommy John surgery would probably end any hopes of Strahm becoming an effective starter in MLB. Pretty much only Chris Capuano has ever enjoyed long-term success as a starter after a second TJ surgery.
Thus, trying to monitor his use makes a lot of sense. In the end, Yost went with Strahm when the choices were either him or Joakim Soria, who threw 26 pitches the night before. Yost elected to go with Strahm, who had only thrown 16 on Tuesday. Also remember that Soria has two Tommy John surgeries and has $17 million in guaranteed money over the next two seasons.
Note, another Twitter user immediately sussed out this rationale:
Yost faced a number of bad choices on Wednesday after having to empty his bullpen for the second straight night. Sometimes, we’re too quick to criticize.