This is the fifth meeting within seven days for these two teams. They know each other pretty well by now, meaning few secrets remain. Perhaps the only secret is which player Joe Maddon will start at designated hitter. The two options are Dan Johnson and Willy Aybar.
The switch-hitting Aybar would be the intuitive choice with lefty-tossing Cliff Lee on the mound. Lee doesn’t have much of a platoon split himself, though, and lefties have actually fared better against him this season than righties. Besides, Aybar had a miserable season all around and posted a .304 wOBA versus lefties. The previous two seasons with the Rays included wOBA of .347 and .381 against abnormal humans, so you can see how this is a new experience for Aybar, who displayed less power and less motivation for free passes.
Johnson bats lefty but has a career .330 wOBA against same-handed pitchers in nearly 400 plate appearances. His skill set is an interesting one given Lee’s dominance in the strike zone. Johnson nary swings at pitches outside of the strike zone and only swings at pitches in the zone a little more often. He’s a take hitter which seemingly makes him a poor matchup against Lee – after all, two takes and it could be 0-2 already.
History suggests Maddon will roll with Aybar, as he did in two of the three regular season affairs, but it is worth noting that the Rays left Aybar off the postseason roster entirely in favor of Rocco Baldelli. That’s relevant because if one didn’t know better, Baldelli’s entire purpose on the roster was to play in game one before ducking out due to fatigue. Whoever Maddon decides to play, it’s not expected to matter much, but who knows what will happen in one last game.
The game of musical DH chairs will end tomorrow night and so will one of these teams’ seasons.
Print This Post