(This guy never forgets the rules. Courtesy of Inside Out Night)
Well, OK, the second rule. The first one is obviously "Do Not Talk About Using Clay Rapada Club." But the second is far more important when it comes to the Yankees winning games, or at least staying close in games they're losing. That rule, in case you've forgotten, is...
"Do Not Use Clay Rapada Against Right-Handed Hitters"
I thought this one was easier to remember than the first rule. Considering Rapada has allowed 51 total unintentional baserunners and 24 ER in 20 career IP against righties, and gets lit up to the tune of .356/.477/.667 (.467 wOBA) by them, it seems almost impossible for anybody to forget this rule. And yet there Rapada was, out there on the mound in the top of the 9th yesterday facing the right handed-hitting Brendan Ryan with 2 outs. He walked Ryan, walked Dustin Ackley to load the bases, and then gave up a 2-out single to Casper Wells, also a righty, to essentially put the game out of reach.
What makes this situation even more frustrating was that Joe was just 2 days removed from playing the mix-and-match game to perfection in the 8th inning with Rapada, Cory Wade, and Boone Logan. Now Wade had already been used yesterday prior to Rapada entering the game and Logan was unavailable, but what about Rafael Soriano? He hadn't pitched in 2 days, and should have had more than enough gas in the tank to get one out against a right-handed hitter and send the Yankees to the bottom of the 9th with a realistic chance to tie or win the game with one swing of the bat. If Joe didn't want to use him, then why not Phelps or Freddy? Either would have been a better option than Rapada.
This was another case of Joe using misguided logic to conclude that leaving Rapada in to face a righty is worth the risk when there is a lefty hitter up next, and also Joe being too married to his predefined bullpen roles. Phelps and Garcia are the "long relievers" and he probably didn't want to use them in a "short reliever" situation, which is stupid, but not quite as stupid as letting Rapada face a righty. As a LOOGY, Rapada has one job to do: get lefties out. He did that job admirably yesterday, getting Carp and Saunders out on just 5 pitches, and it was on Joe to get him out after that and go to a righty to keep the game close. Joe didn't do it, more runs scored, and the Yankees lost.
There's no guarantee that the Yankee offense would have scored in the bottom of the 9th, but the chances of plating 2 in an inning are a helluva lot better than 4, especially with the power in the Yankee lineup. If Joe decided that Soriano and D-Rob were unavailable yesterday, that's fine. But that doesn't excuse not going to another right-hander to relieve Rapada. He needs to forget what guys' defined roles are and remember the second rule of Using Clay Rapada Club.
Do Not Use Clay Rapada Against Right-Handed Hitters