Monday, September 11, 2006

The left handed virus

Marty Noble at writes about the Mets constant problem with left handed pitching:

The Mets are troubled by left-handed pitching, troubled to the point that their ineffectiveness against the members of Kappa Delta Southpaw has become more than a seed of an issue. More evidence of that was provided Sunday when Eric Stults, an unheralded Los Angeles rookie pitcher who is conspicuously left-handed, limited the Mets to two hits in six innings in his first big-league start, and emerged as he winning pitcher in the Mets' 9-1 loss.

Were that performance isolated, the Mets would have boarded their charter to Miami carrying luggage and no sense of "uh-oh." But the loss was their 11th in the last 15 games in which they have been opposed by left-handed starters. And the .266 winning percentage yielded by a 4-11 record hardly is consistent with what the Mets have done otherwise.

It's not so much that the Mets have lost 11 of the 15 games started by left-handed opponents. Their own pitching -- left-handed and right-handed -- has been dreadful in the 15 games. With Steve Trachsel allowing four runs in 2 2/3 innings Sunday, the ERA for the Mets' starters is 8.00 in those 15 games.

But their hitting against left-handed pitching -- starters and relievers -- has been insufficient since July. The Mets batted .268 with a .436 slugging percentage through July. Since then, their batting and slugging averages have been alarmingly lower -- .235 and .385. The poor hitting against left-handed pitching has been recognized by opposing managers, who now opt to use any Tom, Dick or Sandy against the Mets, so long as he is left-handed. Dodgers manager Grady Little said Stults' left-handedness was a persuasive factor in the rookie starting Sunday afternoon.

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