Jun 6, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers catcher Alex Avila (13) at bat against the Boston Red Sox at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Is lack of left-handed hitting hurting the Detroit Tigers?

On Tuesday night, two of the game’s best right-handed pitchers squared off in a battle for first place. Max Scherzer, the 2013 AL Cy Young, took the hill for the Detroit Tigers and Yordano Ventura, the flame-throwing rookie sensation, for the Kansas City Royals.

The blazing Royals offense continued its dominance Tuesday, knocking Scherzer around for eight runs. The second inning was particularly troublesome for him as he allowed a career-high seven runs in a single inning.

Not including June 12th’s start against the Chicago White Sox, Scherzer has surrendered more than four earned runs in each of his last five outings. This should raise some alarm bell for Brad Ausmus and co. — especially since their other “ace” Justin Verlander is struggling — but there’s something else that the Tigers should be concerned about, according to some baseball pundits. And that, my dear friends, is left-handed hitting.

Detroit’s lineup is consumed by right-handed swingers. In fact, the regular starting lineup consists of just one left-handed hitter (Alex Avila) and a switch-hitter (Victor Martinez), who has been much better from the left-side of the plate this season.

After Tuesday’s contest, the Tigers are now just 24-23 when a right-hander starts, compared to a 12-8 record when a southpaw is on the bump. Of course this does not tell the whole story. Wins, obviously, are not just indicative of the starter on the mound. You have to take into account your pitcher/bullpen’s performance and the opposing team’s bullpen’s performance while considering this statistic. So, thanks to ESPN.com, here’s the Tigers’ offensive splits against right and left-handed pitching in 2014.

Against RHP: .275/.327/.437 — .764 OPS

Against LHP: .274/.329/.431 — .760 OPS

Sure, they see right-handers more frequently, so an argument that they are more “prepared” to face them has some validity to it. That said, Detroit has a lineup composed of good all-around hitters, and really it does not seem too much of an issue. Maybe acquiring a better left-handed bench bat than Don Kelly (Matt Joyce, anyone?) at the trade deadline would make sense, but it’s not a dire need. Honestly, the majority of their focus at the trade deadline, should be directed towards their bullpen, whose 4.75 ERA ranks worst in the major-leagues.

Tags: Detroit Tigers

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