Yes, I know I can be hard on Ned Yost, maybe even unfairly so at times. That said, when you are in a pennant race, when every win and loss counts, when you are at home against a last place team, when you can fall a game and a half back in the standings with a loss, YOU CANNOT HAVE AARON CROW PITCH TO DANIEL NAVA WITH THE BASES LOADED.
This is not negotiable. There are no exceptions to this rule.
Aaron Crow is having a dreadful season. His peripheral numbers look good enough (6-1 record, a sub-4.00 ERA before Sunday) that people can be fooled. But don’t be fooled. His 5.50 FIP is second worst in baseball for anyone throwing at least 50 innings. Going into Sunday he had allowed nine home runs in 56 innings, he was striking out five batters per nine innings, his strikeout to walk was 31-22. Lefties hit him way better than righties too.
Daniel Nava meanwhile hits eighty points higher and slugs 130 points higher against righties over his career and this year those numbers are even more pronounced.
Having Crow pitch to Nava there — with a bullpen loaded with three near-unhittable relievers — is not just a bad baseball move, it should be at least a misdemeanor when done inside Kansas City limits. The fact that Nava hit the grand slam you might expect is not fair recompense for having Crow pitch in that situation. There needs to be some community service too.
As usual, Yost’s explanation was even worse than the move itself. When asked why he pitched Crow rather than, say, Kelvin Herrerra, who has not given up a home run all year and has not given up a run in weeks, he said: “Because I had confidence in Aaron Crow. That’s why. Aaron Crow’s inning is the sixth inning. Kelvin’s is the seventh."
There are many things that can be said about a Major League manager refusing to let pitchers in a pennant race in an inning not their own. But … serenity now.