During Game Two of the tight AL Wild Card Series between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Minnesota Twins, a critical decision was made by Jays’ manager John Schneider during the 4th inning of the close ballgame with the score tied 0-0. Starter José Berríos was lifted in favour of Yusei Kikuchi even though Berríos appeared to be on top of his game after only 50 pitches thrown up until that point.
Schneider would later explain that the preference was to be able to utilize the whole roster to the best that one can to its full effectiveness, so with a string of left-handed hitters coming up, he liked Kikuchi in the matchup. He also added the fact that there are a lot of numbers and opinions involved, along with the staff working in the organization as a collective that do their best to help make the ultimate decisions every single day.
But in a game that could be decided by one split decision, this one had certainly come back to haunt the Jays as the Twins promptly scored two runs following the change, and those two runs turned out to be the difference in the ballgame.
During a post-game interview, Blue Jays infielder Whit Merrifield voiced his displeasure in the decision to pull Berríos. No doubt the decision didn’t directly lead to the eventual loss, as the Jays failed to score any runs in the end, but Merrifield truly believed that such decisions being made are taking away from the managerial part of the game, as well as the game of baseball itself.
Of note is the fact that Merrifield will become a free agent this upcoming offseason, with a mutual option that most people believe he will likely decline as a result. Perhaps it is decisions like this that make it the final straw for Merrifield to remain as a Blue Jay beyond this season. Therefore, these stern comments were likely ones that he made on his way out of the ballclub.
Who knows how many of his fellow teammates also felt about the situation, but nevertheless, there will definitely be some changes coming this offseason for the Jays and the organization as a whole to finally get things back in the right direction.