Joe Torre almost certainly looked at a lot of different factors when determining his playoff rotation for the NLCS. However, after naming Vicente Padilla his #2 starter against the Phillies, I’m left to guess that he did not bother to look at platoon splits when making his decisions.
Padilla has pitched better than anyone could have expected since joining the Dodgers, running a 3.40 FIP in seven starts, then shutting out the Cardinals in the first round. However, Padilla has a long track record of having significant problems against left-handed batters. Below are his platoon splits this year and for his career.
Vs RHB: .246/.301/.363, 2.35 K/BB
Vs LHB: .303/.384/.453, 1.54 K/BB
Vs RHB: .241/.300/.368, 3.03 K/BB
Vs LHB: .297/.380/.479, 1.30 K/BB
In his major league career, he’s faced more than 3,000 batters from each side of the plate. He’s owned right-handed hitters and been owned by left-handed ones. This shouldn’t really be any surprise, given his arm slot and the amount of fastballs he throws from that angle. Righties have a hard time picking the ball up out of his hand, but lefties get a really nice view early on in the delivery.
This isn’t some small sample fluke. Padilla will always struggle against LHBs with his repertoire. And, wouldn’t you know, the Phillies have some pretty good left-handed hitters. Between Shane Victorino, Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, and Raul Ibanez, Padilla’s going to be staring down one of the best collections of left-handed bats in the game.
I understand the desire to play the hot hand, and Padilla is throwing better in LA than he has in years, but this is still a really bad match-up for him. In this case, Torre’s simply weighting recent performance far too heavily. Pitching well or not, he’s still penciling in Vicente Padilla for two starts in the NLCS, and that’s not a good decision.
Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.