CINCINNATI — Aroldis Chapman is unhittable in most scenarios. He threw 14 pitches Monday night to seal his third save of 2013. Freddy Galvis hit a soft liner to left. Jimmy Rollins whiffed on a 90-m.p.h. slider. He threw Ryan Howard three strikes at 99, 100 and 100 m.p.h.
Chapman is lefthanded. He faced two switch hitters and a lefty. It just so happened the lefty, Howard, was the final out and the visceral image of a 4-2 loss.
But nearly every Phillies hitter — righty or lefty — has failed against lefthanded pitching in 2013.
The Phillies are worst in the majors with a .384 OPS vs. lefties. They are hitting .136 with a .186 on-base percentage and .198 slugging percentage. For reference, that is just slightly better than what all major-league pitchers did as hitters (.129/.162/.166) in 2012.
Should Jimmy Rollins replace Ben Revere as leadoff hitter?
The sample size, of course, is small. Improvement is required.
Phillies batters have 81 at-bats against lefties in 2013. Only the Blue Jays and White Sox have fewer. Just one of their next six opposing starters is a lefty. That is St. Louis' Jaime Garcia, who pitches Friday night at Citizens Bank Park.
The primary culprits are Howard and Chase Utley. They have combined for two hits and 12 strikeouts in 27 at-bats vs. lefties. Both hits are for extra bases. Ben Revere is 0 for 8 against lefties.
But the righthanded hitters have not delivered. (Righties are .184/.225/.237 vs. lefties.) Michael Young is 2 for 11 with two singles. Jimmy Rollins is 2 for 12 with six strikeouts. Erik Kratz is 1 for 6.
What can the Phillies do? One, they can see some more lefty pitching. It is much too early for conclusions. Two, they can count the days until Carlos Ruiz's return. Ruiz was the team's best hitter against lefties in 2012. (He ranked 37th in baseball with a .906 OPS vs. lefties.) And Delmon Young, who is soon to start an official rehab assignment, mashed lefties in 2012 with an .833 OPS.
For now, it is a disturbing trend worth watching.
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