Friday, September 16, 2005
Posted 12:19 PM by Sean
Jason Johnson, pitching for the Tigers tonight, has been considerably worse versus lefties than righties this season:
vLHB: .315/.360/.491, 12 HR, 184 TBF
vRHB: .254/.286/.357, 8 HR, 124 TBF
Johnson is also much more of a ground-ball pitcher against righties, with a GB/FB ratio higher than 2.0, while lefties put the ball on the ground against him only slightly more than they put it in the air.
With this in mind, I expect the left-handed contingent to feature prominently in tonight's lineup; I think we probably have to resign ourselves to seeing Steve Finley in center. If Guerrero is able to play tonight after jamming his shoulder last night, this sounds about like what Scioscia is likely to do:
Figgins - 3B (S)
Cabrera - SS (R)
Anderson - LF (L)
Guerrero - RF (R)
Erstad - 1B/DH (L)
Kotchman - DH/1B (L)
Molina, B - C (R)
Finley - CF (L)
Kennedy - 2B (L)
If Guerrero is not in the lineup, Scioscia will have to choose between leaving Figgins at third and moving him to right, a position he has played 10 times in his career (8 this year). Given his escapades last night, third base might be the better bet. Additionally, the other options Scioscia has at third are Robb Quinlan, who hits righties to the tune of .152/.204/.196, and Maicer Izturis, who's at a relatively respectable but not spectacular .266/.309/.383.
So that leaves us with the choice of who to play right field in Guerrero's absence, if indeed he is absent. Jeff DaVanon switch-hits, but is hitting .209/.324/.278 versus righties this year. Juan Rivera is a righty, but actually hits righties better than he hits lefties - .276/.318/.485. Given that he's been pretty obviously outshining DaVanon recently, Rivera would seem to be the logical choice. In that case, the lineup could get interesting. It's possible - maybe likely - that Rivera would just hit fourth, in Guerrero's place. It also seems possible, though, that the right thing to do would be to move Erstad up in the lineup to third, bat Anderson cleanup, and use Rivera - who did homer last night, after all - as protection for Anderson.
In any event, the one thing that seems clear is that if the Angels are going to turn things around tonight, they're going to have to get the guys who've been most obviously missing - Anderson, Erstad, and even Finley - to contribute. This game gives them just about the most favorable conditions they could have. In that sense, this game is a test, and the Angels damn well better pass, or get ready for a winter's worth of "what went wrong?"