The greatest benefit enjoyed by a World Series-winning manager, aside from the obvious one, is that all of those in-game decisions that read as questionable or just plain boneheaded in the moment are erased by the post-championship glow. Despite the Cubs’ World Series win, at least one person hasn’t forgotten about Joe Maddon’s dubious tactics.
During a conference call with reporters, newly-signed Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman called out his former manager’s bullpen management during Game 6 and Game 7 of the World Series. From ESPN’s Andrew Marchand:
Aroldis Chapman said Joe Maddon used him wrong during the playoffs. He specifically mentioned that he didn’t think he should have pitched during the ninth inning of Game 6 of the World Series, because the Cubs were up seven runs. Chapman already had thrown in the seventh and the eighth. With the game in hand, he didn’t think he should have been in there. He said he was tired in Game 7. Chapman nearly cost the Cubs the Series by giving up a game-tying homer to Rajai Davis in the eighth inning of Game 7.
Aroldis Chapman may be a terrible human being, but he’s absolutely right about this. It was unwise for Maddon to ask his closer to pitch five outs to protect a five-run lead at the end of Game 6 just two days after he had recorded an eight-out save. You can’t say that those extra pitches Chapman threw in Game 6 directly caused him to give up a game-tying homer to Rajai Davis in the eighth inning of Game 7, but you can certainly say they didn’t help.
It will be interesting to see if Chapman, and other high-profile closers, will be more vocal about how they’re being used in the future. Leaning heavily on dominant bullpen arms is the hot new strategy in baseball, but it would be a mistake for teams to fail to consider how the pitchers themselves might feel about increased workloads. The Yankees threw five years and $86 million at Chapman and obviously have big plans for him. They’d better hope he’s willing to sign off on those plans.