Pedro Figueroa and Too Much of a Good (Well Maybe Not Necessarily Good) Thing
Fifteen percent of people are left-handed and men are more than twice as likely to be left-handed as are women. 20% of MENSA members are lefties. Left-handed male college graduates earn on average 26% more than their right-handed counterparts. Of the five people who have led this country in my time on this earth, three, including our current president, have been southpaws. Lefties are more likely to be alcoholics, and reach puberty nearly a half year after righties. If you are in the Oakland A’s bullpen right now, there is a 50% chance you are left-handed.
That is too much. I understand why this is the way that it is. Brian Fuentes, by virtue of his salary if not always based upon how he holds leads, was a given to be on this team. Jerry Blevins who has been alright in his time spent in Oakland while shuttling back and forth to Sacramento was out-of-options and the A’s weren’t able to just let him go. Jordan Norberto pitched his tail off in spring training and rightfully earned a spot on the team. Now the newest lefty to the pen, Pedro Figueroa is up because the A’s optioned Andrew Carignan on the 17th and Neil Wagner yesterday meaning they aren’t eligible to be recalled (except in case of injury or their being traded) until the 27th and 1st of May respectively – that and Figueroa has pitched well and is on the 40-man roster. The only other eligible pitcher on the 40-man roster is also a lefty - Sean Doolittle with the Stockton Ports.
There are just too many lefties around. I’d have rather seen Graham Godfrey moved to the pen as a long man (another thing the A’s lack) than see him sent to Sacramento to further “leftify” the bullpen. Around the American League, the A’s at four have the highest number of lefty-relievers, but in fairness this is a unique situation, while Figueroa is here the A’s also are the only AL team with a four-man rotation, but the other teams with three lefties all have extenuating circumstances with one exception, Toronto. Cleveland, Kansas City and Minnesota all feature three lefties in the bullpen, but all of those teams also have three man benches giving them each an extra bullpen arm. The White Sox have a three lefty bullpen but one of those guys is their closer Hector Santiago. The A’s shouldn’t go the route of Baltimore or Texas with just a lone left-handed pitcher sitting out beyond the outfield fences, but it does seem too much to have so many lefties to face teams so full of right-handed hitters. Blevins and Fuentes both have unfavorable platoons, and while Norberto has a reverse split at this point in his career, it is solely because of a debate over whether or not he induces weak contact somehow as his BABIP splits are significantly pulling those numbers to the reverse platoon (.236 BABIP vs. RHBs, .318 BABIP vs. LHBs in his career).
This situation only is true for a few days. But if the A’ have so many left-handed pitchers why not take advantage of it? Yesterday, Fuentes was appropriately brought in to face Casey Kotchman and Jack Hannahan. The third batter due up that inning was Jason Donald. While Donald won’t scare too many pitchers – and he shouldn’t. Why not throw Fautino De Los Santos out to face him? Or Ryan Cook? Or Rich Thompson? Then should he get on (as he did versus the southpaw Fuentes) you can toss Blevins, Figueroa or Norberto at him. I don’t like the idea of this many left-handed arms in one bullpen, but I really don’t like the idea of having them all there and not using them to your advantage. Doubly poorly done.
This post was also cross-posted on Athletics Nation as my regular Sunday post there. I suggest that all my readers visit there to comment and also visit that site during the game for lively A’s conversation.