Avoiding the LOOGY Man
The Mets have won 4 straight to start the season, so maybe now isn’t time to make changes. But apart from all of their flaws on paper, this team should be able to hit. However, their lineup has an obvious problem (besides Jason Bay). It’s too left-handed.
Last night, manager Terry Collins put together a batting order that featured 5 left-handed batters, 3 in consecutive order – Lucas Duda, Josh Thole, and Kirk Nieuwenhuis. Nieuwenhuis, of course, replaced switch-hitter Andres Torres in center field, who injured his calf on Opening Day, and does not appear close to returning, according to Mets radio man Howie Rose. The addition of Kirk makes this team even more left-handed.
In response to the stack of southpaws, Nationals manager (and former Mets great) Davey Johnson brought in LHP Tom Gorzelanny in the 6th inning to replace right-handed starter Edwin Jackson. Gorzelanny shut down the Mets for 2.2 innings, allowing only 2 hits. When Collins pinch hit Scott Hairston for Nieuwenhuis late in the game, Johnson finally brought in his right hander, Henry Rodriguez (who would eventually get the loss).
Rest assured, teams will be tossing southpaws against the Mets all year. So here’s a proposed lineup change that would help to break up the lefties, and make opponents less able to match up their LOOGY against them:
2B Daniel Murphy – He doesn’t walk much, but had a .362 OBP last year. Not an ideal leadoff hitter, but the best they have in this version of the lineup.
SS Ruben Tejada – He handles the bat well and can run.
1B Ike Davis – He’s off to a slow start, but should rebound, unless this Valley Fever situation is worse than we thought. Bonus: he’ll see much better pitches batting in front of Wright than he ever will batting in front of Bay.
3B David Wright – The ideal 3rd hitter needs to drop to cleanup in this scenario.
RF Lucas Duda – Good power, good patience.
LF Jason Bay – He has to bat somewhere.
C Josh Thole – Off to a good start with the bat – may be turning into the contact hitter the Mets hope.
CF Kirk Nieuwenhuis – Also an option to bat leadoff – strikes out too much, but did have a .400 + OBP in 221 ABs in AA last year.
In this scenario, the only back-to-back lefties are Thole and Nieuwenhuis. Kirk can be replaced by Hairston in the late innings if they face a tough lefty reliever.
The lineup still includes 5 LHBs, but with this lineup, the Mets should be a little less vulnerable against left-handed pitching.