Ken Rosenthal on Berríos' early removal: 'A decision I'll never understand'

Oct 4, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Jose Berrios (17)
Oct 4, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Jose Berrios (17) / Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

It seems as though the Toronto Blue Jays baffling decision to pull a dominant José Berríos after just 47 pitches and three innings pitched has baffled more than just the Blue Jays faithful. MLB insider and reporter Ken Rosenthal was left scratching his head at the move, too.

In his latest piece for The Athletic, Rosenthal explained how the decision to pull Berríos when they did was a "predetermined choice" that involved too much analytics and numbers. He went on to explain his issue is not with analytics, but with "faulty decision-making based on analytics".

"Jays management wanted lefty Yusei Kikuchi against a pocket of left-hander hitters. Never mind that the Jays signed Berríos to a $131 million extension less than two years ago, or that he had struck out five in three scoreless innings. Who he is, and more importantly, how he was pitching, did not seem to matter."

Ken Rosenthal

Berríos was given in an inexplicably short leash in the Blue Jays must-win game 2 against Minnesota on Wednesday, and was hooked from the game in favour of lefty Yusei Kikuchi after only three innings pitched. The right-hander threw only 47 pitches, struck out five, and at the time of his removal, had not yet given up a run, although he was later charged with one earned run.

At the time the Jays hurler was pulled from the game, three of the next four batters the Twins were set to send to the plate were lefties, which seems to be the reasoning for opting for Kikuchi over Berríos.

The logic makes sense on the surface -- Berríos struggles against left handed batters and Kikuchi is dominant against them -- but it still doesn't make sense to pull a pitcher who is absolutely dealing. Sometimes, feel overrules statistics and analytics.

Of course, the move to yank the starter immediately backfired for John Schneider and co., as Kikuchi allowed the next three hitters to reach base and both runs Minnesota scored in the game were scored in this inning.

In a somewhat shocking revelation, the notion that pulling the right-hander was a group decision was put to bed this morning during Ross Atkins' post-season press conference. He set the record straight, saying that decision was 100% John Schneider's.

The move to pull your $131 million dollar pitcher in a must-win game was a head scratcher at the time, and as it turns out, a costly mistake that cost the Jays their season. It seems as though the move irked more than just Blue Jays fans, as many players had harsh things to say about the decision post-game as well. Whit Merrifield clearly wasn't a fan of the decision, saying he "hated it" and called it a "baseball decision that (is) taking away from managers and baseball". Cavan Biggio called the move "confusing", while Bo Bichette said, "(Berríos) deserves some trust in the bigger moments".