First guessing: Lance Berkman batting sixth against a lefty?


I briefly made note of this already in posting the Yankees’ lineup, but it’s worth expanding on.

Mark Teixeira’s hamstring injury has forced manager Joe Girardi to make some lineup changes for Game 5 of the ALCS today and he has Lance Berkman playing first base and batting sixth against left-hander C.J. Wilson.

Berkman is one of the best, most underrated hitters of this era and he’s a switch-hitter who’s had plenty of success against left-handed pitching throughout his career. However, his production versus lefties has fallen off a cliff after age 30 and includes a .171 batting average this season.

Now, the sample size this season is only 82 at-bats, so those numbers may not be particularly meaningful. However, he also hit just .237 versus lefties from 2007-2009. Add it all up and in more than 500 total plate appearances spread over the past four seasons Berkman has hit a combined .225 with a .370 slugging percentage against southpaws.

By questioning his place in the lineup I’ve probably guaranteed that Berkman will go 5-for-5 with a pair of homers off Wilson, but before the game begins I’ll go ahead and suggest that Girardi is making a mistake by batting him so high in the lineup (and perhaps even by having him in the lineup at all).

Clayton Kershaw completes spring training with a 0.00 ERA

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Clayton Kershaw had nothing left to prove when he exited the mound during his last Cactus League start on Friday. He finished camp with a 0.00 ERA, made all the more impressive after he extended his scoreless streak to 21 1/3 innings following 6 2/3 frames of one-hit ball against the Royals.

In six spring training starts this year, the Dodgers southpaw racked up 12 hits, four walks and 23 strikeouts. His velocity appeared to fluctuate between the high-80s and low-90s from start to start, but manager Dave Roberts told reporters that he expects Kershaw to get back up to the 93 m.p.h. range next week. Kershaw is tabbed for his eighth consecutive Opening Day start on Thursday.

The 30-year-old lefty is poised to enter his 11th season with the club in 2018. He went 18-4 in 27 starts last year and turned in a 2.31 ERA, 1.5 BB/9 and 10.4 SO/9 over 175 innings. He suffered his fair share of bumps and bruises along the way, including a lower back strain that required a five-week stay on the disabled list.

The Dodgers will open their season against the Giants on Thursday, March 29 at 7:08 PM ET. Given the sudden rash of injuries that hit the Giants’ rotation earlier today, Kershaw’s Opening Day opponent has not yet been announced.