SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE SOCIETY OF LEFT-HANDED GENTLEMEN
The Yankees were to face yet another left-hander tonight, Dontrelle Willis, but he was scratched. Somehow, the Tigers were able to pull another lefty out of thin air, the journeyman Brad Thomas. There’s just no escaping the southpaws for the Yankees this year. That makes 13 southpaw starters in 31 games, or 42 percent of the schedule. More troublingly, they are now only 7-6 in games started by left-handed opponents.
Going into Monday’s game, the team as a whole was hitting left-handed pitchers quite well, batting .301/.379/.518 against them. The only Yankees not doing at least a little of substance against portsiders are Nick Johnson and Curtis Granderson, neither of whom is active at the present time. If you want to be mean and hypercritical, you could add that Randy Winn is now 0-for-7 against lefthanders, and I suspect that some of you might want to be mean and hypercritical where Randy is concerned. If you want to be really mean and hypercritical, you might also point out that Randy’s right-handed swing died last year, and he hit a painful .158/.184/.200 in 125 plate appearances against left-handed pitching, and you might further say that the Yankees still need a right-handed outfielder who can actually catch the ball, as they have needed one ever since Granderson was acquired. Randy Winn isn’t the guy.
…I don’t know who that guy is just now. Good center fielders are hard to come by.
Perhaps, though, as tempting as it is to blame Winn for the subpar record, it isn’t the fault of the offense at all. If the Yankees are hitting that well against left-handers, how the heck can they be only one game over .500 against them? The secret is in the record itself:
1. April 6: Jon Lester vs. A.J. Burnett. Yankees won 6-4.
2. April 9: David Price vs. Javier Vazquez. Yankees lost 9-3.
3. April 15: Scott Kazmir vs. Phil Hughes. Yankees won 6-2.
4. April 16: C.J. Wilson vs. CC Sabathia. Yankees won 5-1.
5. April 20: Gio Gonzalez vs. Javier Vazquez. Yankees won 7-3.
6. April 22: Dallas Braden vs. CC Sabathia. Yankees lost 4-2.
7. April 25: Scott Kazmir vs. Javier Vazquez. Yankees lost 8-4.
8. April 29: Brian Matusz vs. A.J. Burnett. Yankees won 4-0.
9. May 1: John Danks vs. Javier Vazquez. Yankees lost 7-6.
10. May 2: Mark Buehrle vs. Phil Hughes. Yankees won 12-3.
11. May 4: Brian Matusz vs. A.J. Burnett. Yankees won 4-1.
12. May 9: Jon Lester vs. A.J. Burnett. Yankees lost 9-3.
13. May 10: Brad Thomas vs. Sergio Mitre. Yankees lost 5-4.
There’s the answer. It’s not strikeouts by Granderson or Johnson’s season-long slump, or even Randy Winn’s failure to hit a sacrifice fly on Monday. No, it’s Javier Vazquez. His spot has come up against left-handers five times in 13 opportunities, CC Sabathia’s spot just twice. That’s really all you need to know.