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Toronto Blue Jays players were ‘surprised’ and ‘hated’ decision to pull Jose Berrios against Minnesota Twins

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Zach Laing
8 months ago
The number of people who were fans of skipper John Schneider’s decision to pull Jose Berrios in favour of Yusei Kikuchi against the Minnesota Twins Wednesday is few and far between.
And by the looks of things, you can add Toronto Blue Jays players Whit Merrifield and Vladimir Guerrero Jr., likely among others, who were none too pleased by the decision in game two of the AL Wild Card Series.
“I hated it, frankly,” Merrifield said. “It’s not what cost us the game, but it’s the kind of baseball decisions that are taking away from managers and baseball, at this stage of the game.”
Guerrero Jr., meanwhile, echoed a similar sentiment.
“Obviously, everybody was surprised,” he said. “Everybody was surprised with the decision, but there are things you cannot control. You can ask yourself many times, but it’s not our decision. We were surprised.”
The decision is one that is largely baked in analytics. The numbers say that Minnesota’s lefty batters struggle in matchups against lefty pitchers, and Toronto clearly tried to expose that. But the plan backfired quickly.
With Berrios final batter faced getting a walk to first, Kikuchi allowed a single, a walk, an RBI single and a ground into double play that scored a run. The move itself didn’t inherently cost the Jays the game given they had ample opportunity to score later on in the game, but it was very clearly a move that cost them dearly.
Berrios himself, who fanned five batters allowing three hits and one walk, was frustrated.
“Honestly, I don’t know,” he said, when asked his thoughts on why it happened. “Other than that, I can’t control that. Like I said, I did my best for those first 12 batters.”
Berrios sure did his best, and he can’t be faulted one bit for what happened. In fact, he deserves a round of applause through the whole affair as he appeared in good spirits in the dugout with his teammates.
In his post-game press conference, Schneider understood the backlash he would face.
“You can sit here and second-guess me, second-guess the organization, second-guess anybody I get that. I get that,” he said, “And it’s tough.
“And it didn’t work out for us today or yesterday. But that’s baseball sometimes.”

Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at zach@oilersnation.com.

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