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Twins at disadvantage versus Yankees' lefty heavy rotation

Oct 6, 2010, 10:18 AM EDT

A.J. Burnett getting bumped from the Yankees’ playoff rotation means the Twins will face a left-handed starter in four of five games, which is a definite advantage for New York.
In the regular season the Twins had a .776 OPS versus right-handers compared to a .736 OPS versus left-handers, in large part because Jim Thome and Jason Kubel both struggle against lefties and the Twins don’t have a good right-handed bat to sub for them.
CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte starting four times lessens Thome’s likely impact, because for as great as he’s been this season his OPS is 400 points lower versus lefties than righties. Thome just isn’t JIM THOME against southpaws, and that’s been true for his entire career. Delmon Young, Michael Cuddyer, and Danny Valencia need to step up as the Twins’ top right-handed bats with Thome, Kubel, and Joe Mauer all at a big disadvantage in four of five games.
On the other hand, the Yankees’ lack of southpaw relievers plays into the Twins’ strengths in the late innings. New York’s bullpen has the potential to be extremely good, but Boone Logan is the lone left-handed option. He’s held lefties to a .190 batting average and .501 OPS this season, but also has a 5.10 career ERA. Even if Joe Girardi trusts him in key spots the Twins’ lefty heavy lineup will eventually get opportunities to face righties late in games.

  1. Cincy Sam - Oct 6, 2010 at 10:33 AM

    You forgot to mention that CC is starting on short rest. You also fail to mention that the Yanks bullpen can be very very lousy as well. If the Tanks don’t win game one, it will be all over, and the Twins will win this series.

  2. LukeCage - Oct 6, 2010 at 10:55 AM

    I agree with you Cincy Sam on the second part. CC’s a work horse and he can go on 3 days rest. But that bullpen has a very fractured bridge. Getting to Mariano Rivera is nowhere like it used to be. That middle relief is so shaky that sometimes the starters have to go an extra inning or so to bridge the gap. But make no mistake, the Yankees ARE underdogs. Maybe not huge ones, but they are.

  3. TMW - Oct 6, 2010 at 10:56 AM

    AG, you’re just going to ignore that Delmon Young slugs .561 off lefties, Cuddyer .475, Valencia .525?
    Remember when the OPS split was actually substantial? There are definitely concerns, but I’m not exactly worried about .040 OPS difference.

  4. David - Oct 6, 2010 at 10:56 AM

    Rivera, Wood, Robertson and Mitre all have OPS-against under 700 vs. LH batters.

  5. minnesconsin_ad - Oct 6, 2010 at 11:03 AM

    my wishful-thinking prediction: Danny Valencia becomes a hero this post-season. Delmon should contribute too, but I just have a feeling about DV right now.

  6. IdahoMariner - Oct 6, 2010 at 2:02 PM

    and…does it matter as much (still matters, but not as much) if they are gettign a steady diet of leftys, thus getting (maybe) a little acclimated? just asking.

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