The Yankees were a winner on Saturday, 6-4 over the Tigers at Yankee Stadium. Jameson Taillon was a winner for the first time in exactly two years. Aaron Judge, with three hits and three RBIs, was a winner. The majority of the 10,015 fans who bought a ticket to see the Yankees do well were winners.
But the biggest winner on this day was the Yankees’ load management computer.
Load management: It’s not just for the NBA. It’s here in the Bronx and it’s here to stay.
Just try to get manager Aaron Boone and the analytics crew in the Yankees’ front office to back off resting players early and often after Judge came back from two days out of the starting lineup to go 5-for-9 with two home runs and eight RBIs between Friday and Saturday.
Gone are the days when players rub some dirt on it and play when they feel a twinge, as Judge apparently did a few days ago. The Yankees said Judge was out with "lower-body" soreness, which they declined to define.
But what about Giancarlo Stanton, one of the hottest hitters on the planet? He wasn’t in the lineup on Saturday and wasn’t injured at all, according to Boone.
"Just a day," Boone said. "Just the day game after the night game on a pretty long stretch here."
Think about it. Day game after a night game. That used to apply to catchers. Now it applies to designated hitters.
Going into Saturday, Stanton had three consecutive games with three hits and an eight-game hitting streak during which he was batting .444. Every time he swings, he has the chance to hit a ball so viciously that it breaks Statcast.
Doesn’t matter. The load management computer spit out that Stanton had to be rested because the Yankees are nearing the end of a stretch of playing for 13 consecutive days.
Rested from what, you might ask, given that he doesn’t play the field and the Yankees have a day off on Monday? Rested for the long haul, the load management computer will tell you.
Do the players fight it? Nah. They know it’s not coming solely from the manager’s office.
"This is something that I talked to him about before [Friday’s] game even," Boone said. "Kind of targeting [Saturday]. I think he was on board with that during this stretch."
Gio Urshela was rested, too, even though he had driven in nine of the Yankees’ last 30 runs in the previous six games.
Sunday could be a load management day for Gleyber Torres, who went 2-for-4 with three RBIs on Saturday and finally is showing signs of life at the plate.
Torres is 24 years old. And did we mention the Yankees aren’t playing on Monday?
According to the load management computer, every position player now is to be treated as if he is made of glass.
It’s a natural outgrowth of the belief that every pitcher’s arm is going to fall off if he throws more than 100 pitches. That belief has led to the exact opposite of what was intended — pitchers get hurt now more than ever.
Load management started in the NBA with San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich when he rested stars Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker. Popovich won five NBA titles, but he also eventually won the scorn of the NBA, which started fining teams for resting their stars too often.
If Boone and the Yankees win five World Series titles in the Judge/Stanton era, obviously they will have been proved right.
They only have five to go.