John Schneider speaks on 'the José Berríos decision' and how he's moving forward

Blue Jays manager John Schneider discusses his regrettable decision to pull José Berríos early from Game 2 of last year's wild card series versus the Twins.

Toronto Blue Jays v New York Yankees
Toronto Blue Jays v New York Yankees / Sarah Stier/GettyImages

José Berríos' first full season in Toronto was nothing much to write home about, as he had arguably the worst year of his Major League career. His 5.23 ERA, 4.55 FIP and 1.419 WHIP were all his worst as a full-time starter, while the 199 hits and 100 earned runs were the most be any pitcher in the AL during 2022.

Fortunately for everyone concerned, last season Berríos looked more like the player who was named an All-Star in 2018 and 2019. He proved to be reliable third option in the rotation, as he equalled his career high of 32 starts, while producing a 3.65 ERA, 3.99 FIP and 1.186 WHIP.

Despite this success, the thing Berríos is most remembered for in 2023 is a negative. He was inexplicably removed from Game 2 of the Blue Jays' wild card series in Minnesota after just three innings and 47 pitches.

At the time of his removal, the 29-year-old had struck out five batters and held the Twins scoreless, albeit he was subsequently charged with an earned run. Some of the logic behind such a decision related to three of the next four Twins batters being left-handed bats, which he does struggle against at times.

A hasty decision

At the same time however, Berríos still deserved more time to show what he could do. Plus, there was no track record during the season of the Blue Jays removing him so early from a game, particularly when he was pitching well.

The Blue Jays would go on to lose the game and the series, although as per the 2-0 scoreline in Game 2, the defeat was more on the offence than the pitching (or defence). Still, the aftermath saw the team receiving a lot of negative feedback related to the decision to pull Berríos so early.

As The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal wrote at the time, he couldn't understand the decision. There was also a lot of criticism surrounding the Blue Jays' apparent over-reliance on analytics, and the question of who ultimately made the decision?

Schneider holds his hand up

John Schneider eventually took the blame, although there are plenty who wonder if he was the fall guy for others within the organisation. (Not mentioning any names .....) Regardless, the Blue Jays manager still has regrets about how it all played out.

Schneider spoke to the Toronto Sun's Rob Longley in Dunedin on Monday, about how he felt following the game. As per The Province, he said: "The aftermath sucked. Playoffs are a different animal and you’re trying to take advantage of every single opportunity."

Several of the Blue Jays players made their displeasure know, including Bo Bichette, Whit Merrifield and Cavan Biggio. Schneider acknowledged he appreciated why they were frustrated and confused by the decision.

Further, in looking to mend fences and regain some trust, Schneider spoke to Berríos and admitted his mistake. As per Longley, he said: "I’ve told José, ‘Dude, I wish I had left you in and see what happens'. "

Better communication needed

Schneider went on to explain the decision to pull Berríos early was a playoff specific plan, but that the communication still could have been better. He said: "It wasn’t like no matter what, you have to do this. It was a strong plan we had. It was using what you’re seeing, but not ignoring what we had seen over the course of the year. I think (people were so irate), because it was earlier than usual and with the way Jose was pitching."

The issue with this is, if Schneider was indeed using what he was seeing at the time, but also not ignoring what Berríos had done during the season, it makes even less sense why the righty was taken out when he was. At the same time, it's now in the past and there's nothing that can be done about it.

What's most important is that the fans hope Schneider and company have learned from what happened, and will approach any similar situation differently in future. As much as analytics are more than ever an unavoidable part of the game today, sometimes you are better served just going with the eye test and look at what's happening right in front of you.

Gausman pulled from bullpen session with ominous shoulder fatigue. dark. Next. Gausman pulled from bullpen session with ominous shoulder fatigue

If nothing else, at least Schneider will be making a renewed effort to communicate more with his players, which you imagine is something they will appreciate. He said: "Me being in a more well-versed spot than I was a year ago or a month ago is helpful and them understanding the stuff I deal with every day and how I sift through information. It’s sh-t, it didn’t work, but (now) the players know what to expect from me and what to expect from the entire organization."