Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Max Kepler and CC Sabathia

The Twins lost again to the Yankees Tuesday night. Didn't hurt them any in the "race" for the wild card slot, though, because the Angels lost also (to Cleveland).

Paul Molitor gave Max Kepler the start in right field against CC Satathia, who at 36 remains a useful starter. He's not the front-of-the-rotation workhorse he used to be -- he's still 25 innings shy of enough innings to qualify for the ERA title -- but there aren't a lot of teams who couldn't slot him into their rotation.

Sabathia hadn't allowed a homer all season to a left-handed hitter, even though this version of Yankee Stadium is just as short to right field as previous versions. Part of that is that he doesn't see many left-handed hitters -- just 103 have come to the plate all season against Sabathia. He's had four starts in which he never saw a lefty hitter. Sabathia may be older and diminished, but left-handed hitters still seem to come down with a fever when he's scheduled to start.

Kepler's struggles against southpaws this year have become rather notorious. Ehire Adrianza, of all people, has essentially taken a platoon outfield job because of Robbie Grossman's thumb injury and Kepler's ineffectiveness against same-side pitching.

But Molitor started Kepler anyway. And Kepler took Sabathia deep. It was not only Sabathia's first homer allowed to a lefty hitter, it was Kepler's first off a lefty pitcher.

Obviously it wasn't enough; the Twins didn't score another run off Sabathia or the Yankee bullpen. But it was just another sample of how you can't predict baseball.

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