|David Huff shut out the Twins|
for seven innings in the opener
of Monday's doubleheader.
It wasn't very accurate.
Ron Gardenhire and I agreed on some important aspects for a doubleheader in oppressive heat and humidity:
- Joe Mauer doesn't catch both games;
- All 12 position players get at least one start.
Eighteen lineup slots to fill in the two games with 12 players meant six players would start both games. We agreed on five of the six: Mauer, Ben Revere, Michael Cuddyer, Danny Valencia and Delmon Young. (He had Alexi Casilla, I had Trevor Plouffe).
But we differed mightly on the platoon advantage. The lineups I designed used right-handed hitters Luke Hughes and Jason Repko against the left-handed David Huff and saved Jim Thome (left-handed) and Tsuyoshi Nishioka (switch-hitter) for the right-handed Fausto Carmona. Gardenhire did the opposite.
Huff entered the game with a career ERA of 5.84 in 38 starts, and his platoon splits are backwards — meaning that left-handed hitters have fared better against him than right-handed hitters. Jim Thome, according to Baseball Info Systems, was 4-for-6 against Huff with two homers coming into the game, and Gardenhire said Thome's eyes lit up when told he would start against Huff rather than Carmona.
Gardenhire put his trust in those individual numbers. It didn't work — which, to be sure, doesn't mean my lineup, based not on individual matchups but on the universal principle of platoon advantages, would have done any better.
But by using his marginal left-handed bats against Huff, Gardenhire was left with his marginal right-handed bats against Carmona, and Carmona has a pronounced traditional platoon split. This is not news; Carmona has actually faced more left-handed hitters over his career than righties, because managers generally stack their lineups with lefties for his starts.
Gardenhire has a pattern of downplaying the platoon strategy, and his lineups Monday are consistent with that. He'll put more weight on a handful of at-bats in an individual matchup than in the general principle of platoon differentials.
On Monday, his lineups combined for five runs in two games. That wasn't enough with two spot starters making credible but not dominating starts.
And the two losses dropped the Twins to seven games out of first.