Alternate title: please stop letting Javier Lopez face right-handed batters.
I feel like I’ve been beating the ‘don’t let Lopez pitch to RHBs’ drum for awhile now, but once again, Bruce Bochy left Javier Lopez in to face too many righties. The result was this…
J Lopez relieved S Romo.
L Berkman grounded out to third.
A Craig doubled to right center, A Pujols scored.
C Rasmus grounded out to second, A Craig to third.
Y Molina intentionally walked.
S Schumaker reached on infield single to second, A Craig scored, Y Molina to second.
I get using Lopez to turn around Berkamn. Lance Berkman, a switch-hitter, is a career .260/.364 /.417 batter against southpaws. Compare that to his career line against RHP (.309 /.424/.589) and it’s a totally defensible move. However, Lopez is known, colloquially, as a LOOGY — or Lefty One Out Guy. What that means is that he’s often strategically (keyword) used to acquire a single out against a left-handed batter. However, after the Berkman at-bat Bochy should have had a right-hander — preferably Brian Wilson — ready to go. Instead, Bochy chose to let Lopez face Allen Craig with a runner already on second base from Romo’s brief outing.
Allen Craig is hitting .330/.400/.500 on the season. He’s done most of his damage against LHP, batting .300/.344/.600 against them. Craig ended up smoking a double into right-center off of Lopez to score the tying run. Eventually, the Cardinals would take the lead on Skip Schumakers rolling single through the right-side of the infield — Sanchez would knock down the ball on the outfield grass, making an off-target throw to first — but you could really feel the tide turning after Craig’s double.
Perplexing bullpen management by Bochy in this one. His use of Lopez against RHBs remains one of the more confounding topics this season.
UPDATE: Here’s a graph of Lopez’s usage versus RHBs over his career.
I split up 2010 since he was with the Pirates and the Giants. In this context, Bochy’s use of Lopez doesn’t look too crazy — Pittsburgh was using him 60.8% of the time against RHBs in 2010 which is absurd. However, I was pretty amazed at Lopez’s career time spent pitching against RHBs. Since 2003, he’s had four seasons in which he faced RHBs at least 50% of the time. I would have expected a much larger slant towards LHBs.
The Giants used him really well in 2010 when they had him for the stretch drive. I’d prefer they scale him back to 2010 levels when facing RHBs.