"Anger, Frustration": Whit Merrifield Opens Up On Blue Jays Disastrous Finish

He spoke out in the heat of the moment after their controversial elimination from the Wild Card Series. Now, in a new interview, Toronto Blue Jays impending free agent Whit Merrifield has had time to add perspective to what went on in that final game. And he described, on the Foul Territory podcast, the feelings of himself and teammates in a post-mortem meeting:

"From gratefulness to anger to frustration to sadness, all of the emotions were touched at the end of that game. It wasn't a fun meeting by any means, but guys got it out there, and shared their emotions".

The biggest discussion, of course, centered around the ridiculous and puzzling removal of red-hot starting pitcher Jose Berrios after just three innings while he was tossing a shutout and confounding Minnesota Twins hitters.

I hated the move. I hated that he didn't get the chance to get out and have that signature 'put the team on my back' moment. (But)... our coaches and front office had their gameplan going into the game, and it didn't work out... There was a lot of times where we got so stuck on numbers and not letting a pitcher to face a lineup for a 3rd time, or we can't let this righty face this righty, or lefty face this lefty. But when you're locked in, it doesn't matter... 

Jose was locked in. And I guarantee you that if he had (faced) that lineup again for a 2nd time, for a 3rd time, it wouldn't have mattered. Because his stuff was sharp and he was cruising and he had that 'get out of my way' look in his eye... And it is a shame... 
It was a shock that we were pulling him so early. I feel bad for Jose.

It was Merrifield's understanding that the game plan to remove Berrios after one time through the order was communicated to the pitcher before the game. But the rest of the team might have been in the dark. 

"I'm not gonna speculate or throw people under the bus," said the now-free agent 2B/OF. "But there was definitely some confusion among the players as to what was going on..."

Speaking of throwing people under the bus—a la general manager Ross Atkins, who held a press conference to pin all the blame for the move on manager John Schneider, while taking no responsibility or accountability himself for his analytics-heavy overall game plans—Merrifield wouldn't address that, saying he hadn't heard Atkins' controversial quote. 

As for himself, he didn't discuss his free agency, but he and the team hold a 'mutual option' of $18M for next season. Atkins, however, let it slip in another unfortunate moment in his press conference, that none of his team's three free agents are expected back next season.

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