Friday, October 03, 2008
Ervin Santana (214 strikeouts to 47 walks in 219 innings) is LAA’s best pitcher. Last week I was out in Seattle when he dominated the Mariners, albeit mostly an AAA lineup less Ichiro and Ibanez. ES locates his mid-90’s fastball and has an outstanding slider. The mid-80’s slider breaks hard down-and-away to RHB. It is a swing-and-miss pitch. He’ll throw either pitch in any count. Santana throws his curve and change (both are rated as average pitches) to southpaws more often instead of the slider. Some lefties, as many are good down-and-in hitters, can take the slider yard if it is left up around the knee.
With that being said, Tito should sit Mike Lowell and Jed Lowrie in favor of Mark Kotsay and Alex Cora. Kotsay is an easy choice. He has hit Santana well going 389/450/500 in 18 at-bats. Lowell is banged up and could probably use the rest in preparation for Sunday’s game versus a southpaw starter. Few dispute that Cora is a better shortstop than Lowrie, and in this matchup, AC is probably better at the plate. Cora’s ability to hit the pitches down-and-in (306 BA) or the natural location of Santana’s slider could somewhat neutralize his best weapon. Plus, Lowrie has been feeble hitting from the left side.
The relatively free swinging LAA (TB and the Other Sox are patient clubs) should be a good opponent for Dice-K. Bill Shaikin’s article in the L.A. Times is a must read on this aspect of tonight’s game.