Sunday, October 05, 2008
Joe Saunders (103/53 in 198 innings) is a control pitcher. Those types of pitchers get hammered by the Sox unless their command is on. Saunders will need to get ahead of Sox hitters, expand the strike zone or it could be a short outing for the southpaw.
According to the scouting report, Saunders throws sliders and curves to southpaws and changeups to righties. He lives on the outer half of the plate so the lineup should look to go with the pitch the opposite way. Behind in the count, 75% of the he goes with a fastball and 20% the change. Since southpaws rarely see the Saunders’ change, Ortiz and Drew should look for fastballs away taking them off the Monster, when they are ahead in the count.
Coco has a line of 294/294/706 with a homer in 17 chances against Saunders. Ellsbury would be okay too, but with Coco’s history and the natural advantage most LHP have on southpaw hitters. Crisp is the best choice. Jed Lowrie should also start because Cora would be terrible. Even though AC’s numbers are not awful against lefties, he has only 128 at-bats or 18% versus southpaws over the last four years. It is widely known that Cora is no threat against most lefties.
Casey or Kotsay are not good match ups for Saunders, but neither is Lowell. Lowell hit 333 v change ups from lefties. Saunders likes to work away, which should limit Lowell’s power potential.. Mike also has the tendency to roll over off-speed pitches on the outer half that smells like ground balls to shortstop and possible double plays.
If it were me, I would go with the best defensive alignment but I’m not sure what that would be. This is a tough decision for Terry Francona. Hopefully, it won’t matter. A healthy Josh Beckett that commands his fastball and throws his curveball for strikes should dominate LAA and most lineups. On the other hand, if Beckett does not have his command and falls behind, LAA has hit his heater well this year.