Being too left-handed finally bringing down Phillies

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It was the obvious issue when GM Ruben Amaro opted for Raul Ibanez over Pat Burrell last winter: the Phillies would have big problems against left-handed pitching with so much of their power coming from the left side.
It turned out to be a non-factor during the regular season. Ibanez, who went into the year with a career OPS of 740 against left-handers, delivered a remarkable .285/.359/.639 line in 144 at-bats versus southpaws. Chase Utley came in at .288/.417/.545. Jayson Werth, the one right-handed hitter in the middle of the order, destroyed lefties to the tune of a 1080 OPS. Only Ryan Howard struggled against them, finishing at .207/.298/.356.
The Phillies also didn’t have any problems with lefties in the first two rounds of the postseason. The Rockies didn’t have any left-handed starters to throw in the NLDS, and the Phillies got to both Clayton Kershaw and Randy Wolf in the NLCS.
The Yankees, though, set it up so that they’d be able to throw a lefty five times in the seven games of the World Series. The Phillies have held their own against CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte, but they’ve lost two of the three games started by the pair so far. Utley, who has taken Sabathia deep twice, is the only left-handed hitter producing right now. He’s slugging .933 in four games.
Howard and Ibanez are a combined 6-for-33 with no homers and an incredible 19/0 K/BB ratio. Switch-hitters Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino are both hitting just .200, though they’ve at least managed six walks between them. Besides Utley, Werth and Carlos Ruiz have been the team’s best hitters.
And that’s where manager Charlie Manuel’s lineup has failed. Adjustments could have been made to give the right-handed hitters more chances to produce runs. Manuel used to be willing to put Werth in the second spot in the order. Victorino could also be moved around as well. Manuel, though, has stuck with the exact same lineup, excepting only the DH games, in every postseason contest so far.
Right now, all of the Phillies’ production is coming from the third, fifth and eighth spots in the lineup. Since no one else is getting on base, all seven of their homers through four games have been solo shots. The inability to sustain any sort of rally is the biggest reason the Phillies are about to lose the World Series.
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The Nationals acquire Marc Rzepczynski from the Athletics

ARLINGTON, TX - JULY 25:  Marc Rzepczynski #35 of the Oakland Athletics throws against the Texas Rangers in the fifth inning at Globe Life Park in Arlington on July 25, 2016 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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The Nationals have acquired left-handed reliever Marc Rzepczynski and cash considerations from the A’s in exchange for minor league infielder Max Schrock.

Schrock is a 21-year-old second baseman who has been pretty darn impressive in A-ball this year, but the Nats can be excused for giving up promise in 2018 or whatever for some bullpen help come playoff time. Rzepczynski walks a few too many guys for my taste but he strikes ’em out at a pretty decent rate for a LOOGY and the Nats could use another southpaw reliever apart from Oliver Perez. This is especially true given how many tough lefty hitters they may face in the playoffs.

On the basic merits, sure, Rzepczynski for Schrock may look pretty dang good for the A’s in a few years. But this October the A’s will be watching on TV from home while the Nats will be trying to win it all, making the trade pretty darn understandable from their point of view.

 

Video: Minor leaguer dives over the wall to rob a home run

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Meanwhile, in Tulsa, Zach Welz of the visiting Arkansas Travelers made a spectacular catch. It was the catch Torii Hunter tried to make on that famous David Ortiz homer in the playoffs a few years back except Welz made it.

Watch as he topples over the wall to come up with the would-be dinger off the bat of Tulsa Drillers first baseman Cody Bellinger: