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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Phillies should stack their lineup with lefties tonight

Tonight, the Phillies face RHP Braden Looper. In his career, Looper allows righties to reach base at a .304 OBP, a very solid number; however, his OBP-allowed vs. lefties is .358, a poor number for a starter. The slugging percentages follow the same pattern: RHB vs. Looper only manage a .349 SLG, while lefties crush Looper to the tune of a .463 SLG.

As a result, Charlie Manuel should bench Pedro Feliz in favor of Greg Dobbs. The mere fact that Dobbs is a lefty makes this move advantageous for the Phillies, but when you consider Feliz' numbers vs. RHP (his .284 OBP is simply unacceptable) in comparison to Dobbs' (.340), the decision is a no-brainer.

In fact, there's really no reason for Feliz to ever start against a righty when you have such a huge offensive improvement on the bench. Feliz is a fantastic defensive third basemen, and Dobbs is barely average, but the offensive difference is too much to ignore. In addition, if you always start Dobbs vs. RHP, the potential exists for a late-game situation where the opposing manager wastes a lefty reliever on Dobbs. Then, Manuel simply inserts Feliz for Dobbs. This situation gives you three advantages: it burns an opposing lefty reliever (so he's unavailable when Utley and Howard come to the plate); it gives you Feliz vs. a lefty specialist late in the game, a favorable matchup; and it improves your late-game defense.

Dobbs should start tonight. And, if you're really feeling wild, Matt Stairs is probably a better option than Werth to face Looper, simply because Looper struggles so mightily against lefties while handling righties pretty easily.

It will be very interesting to see Manuel's lineup choice.

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