Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Tonight's managers spurn platoon edge
From Marc Topkin, news about tonight's lineups:
Manager Joe Maddon went mostly right-handed in his lineup tonight, but did opt for lefty Dan Johnson at DH over Willy Aybar. Kelly Shoppach will be the catcher.
Maddon had said on Monday that he likely would go back to his righthanders, such as Shoppach and 2B Sean Rodriguez, but hadn't decided on the DH. Part of that was Johnson's ability to work tough at-bats even against lefty pitchers, such as Texas' Cliff Lee. And also that Maddon likes the flexibility of having the switch-hitting Aybar on the bench for a pinch-hit opportunity. In Game 1, the Rays used Rocco Baldelli, but he is no longer on the active roster.
As I've written, Maddon's cupboard is utterly bare when it comes to a DH who can hit lefties (which was true even before Baldelli went down). I don't know that Johnson is the best choice among bad choices, but I don't know that he's not.
Coincidentally, Ron Washington has almost exactly the same problem at first base. Rookie Mitch Moreland, a left-handed hitter, gives the Rangers decent production against right-handed pitching, but righty-hitting Jorge Cantu hasn't done anything against anybody this season. And like Maddon, Washington is foregoing the platoon advantage in favor of the guy who's actually hit some this season.
I just hope nobody lets Washington get away with claiming that he's saving Cantu as a pinch-hitter for a key moment in the most important game in franchise history.