A-Rod critical of Yanks'  G2 pitching strategy

October 8th, 2020

Retired slugger Alex Rodriguez had strong words of criticism toward his former team, the Yankees, following New York’s 8-4 loss to the Rays in Wednesday’s Game 3 of the American League Division Series.

Rodriguez, who won two AL MVP Awards and a World Series championship while playing in pinstripes from 2004-16, did not agree with what he called a “gimmicky” decision by the Yankees to start rookie Deivi García in Game 2 and set a bullpen game in motion. New York trails Tampa Bay by two games to one in the series.

García allowed a run in his only inning of work before giving the ball to veteran J.A. Happ, who allowed a pair of two-run homers in New York’s 7-5 loss to Tampa Bay. The Rays have found success in recent seasons employing multiple pitchers out of their bullpen to win games, and they tied an MLB regular season record in 2020 by featuring 12 pitchers who recorded a save.

“You’re the New York Yankees, the biggest, most successful franchise -- maybe in sports,” Rodriguez began on FOX’s postgame studio show. “You have to play your game. You’ve done it for 120 years, you have 27 championships and you’ve done it as an alpha. You’ve done it the old fashioned way.”

Rodriguez cited the Yankees’ victory in Game 1, in which New York got a more traditional six-inning outing from ace Gerrit Cole before the club’s bullpen recorded the final nine outs in a 9-3 victory, as an example of that “old fashioned” approach. Rodriguez said “the front office got involved” once the series moved to Game 2.

“The Yankee roster has to bail out [general manager] Brian Cashman and the front office,” Rodriguez continued. “They’ve done some wonderful things, but Game 2 was a mistake. You spend so much time trying to figure out how to outsmart the Ivy Leaguers over there, that’s not your game. Don’t play Jeopardy! Play baseball.

“Players win championships,” Rodriguez concluded. “We used to say, ‘If the manager can stay out of the game, that would be great.’ Now we have to say, ‘If front offices can stay out of the game.’ Frustrating.”

The Rays have long been recognized as one of the most analytically inclined MLB franchises, but the Yankees have also wholeheartedly embraced advanced metrics in recent years and built one of the largest analytics departments in the game. The Yankees (954) and Rays (900) are first and second among AL clubs in total regular-season victories since the start of the 2010 season.

The Rays will be looking to close out the best-of-five series in Game 4 tonight at 7 ET on TBS, with Jordan Montgomery starting for the Yankees and Ryan Thompson serving as the opener for Tampa Bay.