Thursday, May 23, 2013
Lineup changes coming against lefties?
By Jesse Rogers
Francisco Liriano was just the latest lefty to give the Cubs problems.
PITTSBURGH -- Chicago Cubs manager Dale Sveum has seen enough -- at least when a left-hander is opposing his team. He might be ready to make some changes after back-to-back losses against southpaws dropping the Cubs record against left-handers to 4-10 this season.
"I'll tell you the truth, I'm thinking about it now," Sveum said Thursday morning before the series finale with the Pittsburgh Pirates. "Just to see what happens. It's kind of gotten to the point."
The only question might be what took so long? The Cubs have been abysmal all season against lefties.
Sveum has made a habit of sitting David DeJesus, Nate Schierholtz and Luis Valbuena against lefties but with little success. Schierholtz's replacement, Scott Hairston, is hitting .089 against left-handed pitching and between Dave Sappelt -- now in the minors -- and Julio Borbon, center fielders not named DeJesus have a .212 average. It's not nearly good enough against some good left-handed pitching.
"These guys are the top of the line," Sveum said of Wandy Rodriguez, Francisco Liriano and others. "That's how good left-handed pitching is in all of baseball now. There's some quality, quality left-handed starters that are pitching and doing well against a lot of people."
So what can Sveum do? Dipping down to the minors for a right-handed bat doesn't seem like an option.
"We had Sappelt, that didn't work out too well," Sveum said.
It means other lefty hitters -- besides Borbon -- should see playing time against lefty pitchers. DeJesus, Schierholtz and particularly Ryan Sweeney have had much better at-bats -- and in some cases better success -- than their replacements.
And then there are the everyday players, against lefties or righties. The biggest disappointment has to be the right-handed Starlin Castro. He struck out with the bases loaded and one out against Liriano in Wednesday's 1-0 loss to the Pirates.
"I hit the same, stay aggressive, whoever is pitching," Castro said. "He threw nasty pitches. I never change my approach."
Castro is hitting just .217 against left-handed pitching and his slugging percentage is just .283. No matter who Sveum puts out there the main guys need better at-bats against the southpaws in the league.
"The bottom line is our core players have to do the job too," Sveum said.
A new lineup against lefties will have to wait until next week as the Cubs aren't scheduled to see one until then.