It’s not breaking news that the New York Yankees are helpless when it comes to hitting left-handed pitching, and the opposition is clearly getting the idea.
Every baseball team has their weakness. For the New York Yankees, their kryptonite happens to be every time a left-hander takes the hill against them.
And it seems as though Lex Luthor has plenty of the power draining radioactive element as New York has faced the second most lefties in the American League (243 at-bats).
Going into play on Monday, the Bombers were ranked dead last in the American League with a .602 OPS against southpaws. Their total slash line was .225/.311/.291 and they only had two home runs.
Even with two dingers off the bat of Jacoby Ellsbury and Starlin Castro in Monday’s win over the Texas Rangers, the team’s OPS still ranks second to last in the league and it seems as if anyone who throws with their left hand will dominate this slumping lineup.
The last six lefties the Yankees have faced (Drew Smyly, Blake Snell, Matt Moore, Rich Hill, Eric Surkamp, and Cesar Ramos) have held New York to nine runs and struck out 35 batters in 36.1 innings pitched.
Even the greatest moments of this young season like Brett Gardner’s walk-off home run and Nathan Eovaldi’s flirtation with a no-no only painted over the fact that the Achilles heel for this team still found it’s way into the game.
In the game in which Gardner hit the game-winning shot into the second deck, New York only managed four hits and two runs: one on a wild pitch, the other thanks to catcher’s interference. In Monday’s 3-1 win, Ramos dealt a quality start.
So now we ask the million dollar question, how can this team be so disturbingly awful at hitting left-handers? For starters, we can hope this is only an early season slump.
The switch-hitting Chase Headley owns a .111 (3-for-27) batting average and a 26.7 K% against them, Alex Rodriguez is hitting .143 (3-for-21) with a 29.2 K%, and Aaron Hicks, who was acquired for the sole purpose of destroying lefties, has been negatively abominable with a .067 (1-for-15) average along with a .243 OPS.
The reason why manager Joe Girardi keeps Hicks in the lineup is because in 2015 he owned a .870 OPS. Do the math, that’s an incredible fall off for a man who has been penciled into the lineup every time a pitcher wears his glove on the right hand.
The trio of hitters who were supposed to specialize in this category has struck out 18 times compared to their total of seven hits.
“I got no idea,” Carlos Beltran told Kevin Davidoff of the NY Post when asked about the struggles against lefties. “We feel we have a good plan, but unfortunately, right now we’re not having success.”
The Yankees may not know the source of their infuriating struggles, but if this becomes a season-long issue, this could be one long and lonely road as the Yankees try to compete in the left heavy American League.
In their own division, they have to face David Price who owned a 1.60 ERA against left-handed hitting and has 13 wins against New York. Dallas Keuchel, another southpaw that will more than likely find himself in the Yankees’ path, absolutely owns them with a 1.45 ERA in four starts including a masterful performance in last year’s AL Wild Card game.
Chris Sale, Cole Hamels, and many others may pose a problem when it comes to championship aspirations, but let’s face it, they allowed a lefty with a sub-five ERA to put up a quality start against them (Cesar Ramos) so literally every lefty is a problematic situation.
“We’ll get a lot of practice at it,” manager Joe Girardi told Newsday.
Practice or not, these guys can’t get any worse… can they?