The Blue Jays missed their chance to sweep the Yankees on Wednesday night, dropping the series finale by a score of 7-2.
But the big story in this game was Tanner Roark, who got pulled after allowing two earned runs, both solo homers, in four innings of work.
In the fourth inning, Roark worked a one-two-three, getting Miguel Andujar, Brett Gardner, and Gary Sanchez out. After that Charlie Montoyo opted to bring in Ross Stripling as a bulk reliever to face the top of the order.
It didn’t go well.
Stripling allowed a leadoff single to No. 9 hitter Tyler Wade, a single to Luke Voit, a walk to Aaron Hicks, and a double to Gleyber Torres. The three-run inning put the Yankees up by a score of 5-2 and they didn’t look back from there.
After the game, Roark wasn’t thrilled about Montoyo’s decision, calling it “bull crap” that he was pulled so early and that he didn’t care what computer said, he’s a pitcher who gets better as a game goes along.
Tanner Roark is not a fan of getting pulled from the game before the third time through the order. pic.twitter.com/yIgOPHWtzN
— Ian Hunter (@BlueJayHunter) September 10, 2020
Unfortunately for Roark, whether he likes it or not, the statistics don’t indicate that he gets better as the game goes along. When facing the order for the third time, opponents are batting .353 against Roark this season.
It didn’t work out this time, but the logic on the Blue Jays and Montoyo’s part is sound in this situation. Multiple times this season we’ve seen a pitcher get left in for a little too long because the ‘pen is gassed and that starter ends up getting spanked the third time through the order. But now, with so many bullpen arms, Montoyo has the ability to let his back-end starters like Roark only work through the order a couple of times.
Unfortunately, Stripling wasn’t able to get the job done like Shun Yamaguchi was able to on Monday. But it’s difficult to say if Roark would have had a better fortune facing the top of New York’s order for the third time.
Another thing to consider, though, is that Montoyo and the staff need to tell Roark ahead of the game that this is the plan. You’re having a rough go the third time through, so we’re going to pull you after you’ve gone through the lineup twice. It’s pretty clear given his interview that Roark was blindsided by the decision.
I do believe it was the right call, but it’s fair for Roark to be pissed off. He’s a competitor, he was pitching fairly well, and he wants to go out there and throw six, like the old-school starter he says he is.