- FanGraphs Baseball - http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs -

Three Lefty Playoff Rotation

The Phillies acquired Cliff Lee yesterday with the eye on the playoffs, they are six games up in NL East and by at least these estimates have over an 81% chance of reaching the post season. So I thought I would look to a potential Philly playoff berth. With Lee, their potential playoff rotation looks like:

Cole Hamels, LHP
Cliff Lee, LHP
Joe Blanton, RHP
J.A. Happ or Jamie Moyer, both LHPs

This is three-lefties-one-righty rotation is all the more interesting in light of the potential righty-heavy lineups they could face. Dave noted that the Cardinals have a very righty-heavy lineup, and the Giants only have one lefty in their regular lineup now that Ryan Garko replaced Travis Ishikawa. On the face of it this could present Philly with a real problem, but let’s look at these lefties’ career platoon splits.

 Career OPS against
+--------+----------+----------+
|        | OPS vRHB | OPS vLHB |
+--------+----------+----------+
| Hamels |    0.698 |    0.716 |
| Lee    |    0.737 |    0.710 |
| Happ   |    0.711 |    0.651 |
| Moyer  |    0.741 |    0.764 |
+--------+----------+----------+

Hamels has a devastating changeup, a pitch that generally does not show a platoon split, as a result Hamels has a reverse platoon split.

Cliff Lee, with a good changeup and curveball another pitch with no platoon split, has shown only a modest platoon split over his career.

Happ, on the other hand, has a quite large platoon split, which he had in the minors too (0.678 vRHB and 0.622 vLHB). It is backed up by his pitch usage which is very fastball heavy, with almost no curves and few changeups.

Moyer is an interesting case, over his career he has had a reverse platoon split on the strength of his good changeup and curveball. This year, though, he has a very drastic split in the other direction (0.885 OPS against RHB and 0.700 against LHB). Normally I would write this off as noise, but as I noted in this post Moyer is throwing many fewer changeups and curves this year and many more two-seam fastballs, which have a large platoon split. If he keeps this pitch breakdown going forward I would assume his split will stay like it has been this year.

All told I don’t think it should be much of a concern. Lee and Hamels are both great pitchers who do better or just marginally worse against RHBs, so I don’t think the Phillies should worry about facing righty-heavy lineups in the playoffs.