Monday, July 6, 2015

Ryan Howard will keep playing against lefty pitchers

Ryan Howard is one of baseball's worst hitters when a lefty is throwing. Charlie Manuel disputed the notion Howard has become a platoon player with three-and-a-half seasons remaining on his mega contract.

Ryan Howard will keep playing against lefty pitchers

0 comments

Four hours before Friday's first pitch, the Braves switched their starting pitcher from a righthander to a lefthander. Charlie Manuel was aware of the change, and it did not affect his lineup. Ryan Howard would play first base and bat cleanup regardless.

Howard had not started against the previous three lefty pitches and four of the last five.

"He was going to play," Manuel said. "He's going to play tomorrow and he'll probably play the rest of the time through the break."

The slugger is one of baseball's worst hitters when a lefty is throwing. Manuel disputed the notion Howard has become a platoon player with three-and-a-half seasons remaining on his mega contract. The manager cited Howard's balky left knee. He believes it is prudent to often rest Howard. It makes most sense to do that when lefties pitch.

All semantics aside, Howard has not hit lefthanders for an extended period, long before the knee was an issue. Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said Howard's difficulties are half related to the injury. Since 2011, Howard has a .596 OPS against lefties. That ranks 222d of 233 hitters with at least 250 plate appearances against them.

His splits are more pronounced in 2013 than ever. He is hitting .302 with an .878 OPS against righties. That drops to .169 with a .503 OPS vs. lefties.

"I don't look at Ryan Howard as a platoon player yet," Manuel said. "I think he can still hit and still get going. His knee does bother him. If we're going to rest him against somebody, it should be against a lefty. But at the same time, it doesn't mean he is a platoon player yet."

Manuel said his questioners had "short memories." He cited a game from 2006 when Howard pinch-hit against a lefty and cracked a game-tying home run.

That, of course, was quite some time ago.

Manuel said a player's capability — even if the current performance does not mirror it — plays a factor into his decisions. Hence, Howard will play against lefties.

"Look at every aspect of it," Manuel said. "That's what goes through a manager's mind sometimes."


Have a question? Send it to Matt Gelb's Mailbag.

0 comments
We encourage respectful comments but reserve the right to delete anything that doesn't contribute to an engaging dialogue.
Help us moderate this thread by flagging comments that violate our guidelines.

Comment policy:

Philly.com comments are intended to be civil, friendly conversations. Please treat other participants with respect and in a way that you would want to be treated. You are responsible for what you say. And please, stay on topic. If you see an objectionable post, please report it to us using the "Report Abuse" option.

Please note that comments are monitored by Philly.com staff. We reserve the right at all times to remove any information or materials that are unlawful, threatening, abusive, libelous, defamatory, obscene, vulgar, pornographic, profane, indecent or otherwise objectionable. Personal attacks, especially on other participants, are not permitted. We reserve the right to permanently block any user who violates these terms and conditions.

Additionally comments that are long, have multiple paragraph breaks, include code, or include hyperlinks may not be posted.

Read 0 comments
 
comments powered by Disqus
About this blog

The place for up-to-the-minute Phillies coverage from The Inquirer's beat writers and columnists.

Jake Kaplan Inquirer Staff Writer
Bob Brookover Inquirer Columnist
Marc Narducci Inquirer Staff Writer
Matt Breen Inquirer Staff Writer
Latest Videos:
Also on Philly.com:
letter icon Newsletter