Much is being made of Ryan Howard's struggles so far in this World Series — two for 13 with nine strikeouts. There's really not a lot of reason to be surprised.
Point no. 1: He strikes out a lot. Always has. Always will. In 2006, 181 K's. In '07, 199. In '08, 199 again. In '09, 186. The Phillies are willing to live with almost 200 K's a year from him in return for 40-plus homers, 80-plus extra base hits and 140-plus RBIs a year.
Point no. 2: Ryan Howard vs. left-handed pitching in 2009: .207 batting average, .298 on-base percentage, .358 slugging percentage. The man slays righties, but can't handle southpaws.
Seven of his 13 at-bats have come against lefties. Pretty much have to expect he's going to struggle under those circumstances.
To be fair, he got two hits off southpaws in the first game. And he went 0-for-4 with four strikeouts in Game Two against A.J. Burnett and Mariano Rivera, both right-handers.
Still, his series is panning out roughly as I anticipated when I predicted a Yankees victory.
Tonight (Sunday) he faces CC Sabathia again. This series isn't getting any easier for Howard.