Yankees manager Joe Girardi felt that they had a good staff, but that part of the problem was that their catcher, Russell Martin, wasn’t being aggressive enough with his pitch calling behind the plate and Girardi let him know it. Girardi said that Martin responded positively to the criticism and has been a big reason toward the rotation’s turn around.
“Joe called me in the office, and he said, ‘I think you can do better; I think you can do better behind the plate,’” Martin told David Waldstein of the NY Times. “I was like: ‘O.K., fine. You’re right.’ And I started doing better.”
“He gave me a little bit of direction,” Martin said. “He was very encouraging. It was only two or three minutes. He said, ‘I think you need to start doing a couple of things; I think you need to start throwing inside more.’ He was right.”
It’s hard to say how much of the turn around was directly due to Girardi’s talk with Martin, but one thing is for sure that they pitching staff certainly turned it around. In April the rotation trailed only the Twins in the AL with a 5.80 ERA. They now sit 6th in the AL with a 4.23 ERA after leading with a 2.13 ERA in 12 games since the sit down.
If the stats are correct the Yankees can expect that to keep going too. ERA shows better what happened, xFIP is better at predicting what will happen and the Yankees have the best xFIP in the AL over the past 30 days at 3.54 and are second best all season at 3.75.
So whether it did or didn’t help things, Girardi’s talk with Martin certainly couldn’t have hurt and things are certainly better. The Yankees have one of the best pitching staffs in baseball right now and their catcher has the confidence of his manager.
“I think he’s done a tremendous job,” Girardi said. “He’s been a big part of that.”