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Could Giants’ Left Handed Pitching Play A Big Role Against Tigers In World Series?

By Bryan Rose

When you make it to the World Series, holes to exploit are few are far between. After all, you’re in the Fall Classic for a reason. That said, as the opposition, it’s your job to find flaws wherever you can and the Detroit Tigers, at least through the regular season, had quite the unexpected flaw – trouble with left handed arms.

Oct 22, 2012; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants relief pitcher

Javier Lopez

(49) stands on the mound in the ninth inning in game seven of the 2012 NLCS against the St. Louis Cardinals at AT&T Park – Kelly Cox – USA Sports

While you traditionally expect right handed batters to hit left handed pitchers well, especially when you have talent like Austin Jackson and Miguel Cabrera, the Detroit Tigers (as a team) were an anomaly to that fact.

The Tigers hit a scorching .275 against right handed pitching this season, good for the top overall rank in either league – their .337 OBP% only bested by the St. Louis Cardinals. However, when it came to facing southpaws, the Motor City boys’ offense took a pretty significant dive. Their average dropped to .253, good for 15th in the league, though, they were able to maintain a solid OBP% thanks to their 178 base on balls against lefties, good for fourth in Major League Baseball.

So why could this prove to be such a significant factor? Well, the Giants – they’re pretty endowed when it comes to lefties, both in the rotation and in the ‘pen. With lefty Barry Zito potentially pitching two, or even hard as it is to imagine, three starts if the World Series goes a full seven games along with Madison Bumgarner potentially being put back into the rotation, the Tigers may only face two right handed starting arms in Ryan Vogelsong and Matt Cain. The Giants could opt to put Tim Lincecum back into the rotation at some point, or they may leave him in the bullpen for long relief if a starter falters – a bullpen that is full of tough lefties in Jose Mijares, Jeremy Affeldt and Javier Lopez. The Giants

That said – advantages are only advantages when they’re exploited and exploited well. The statistics in that regard favor the Giants given the Tigers’ struggles with lefties, but it’ll be up to them to make sure it stays that way – the Tigers aren’t just going to lay down.