With the Seattle Mariners‘ ace starter Felix Hernandez on the mound on Saturday against his club, Chicago White Sox manager Robin Ventura has opted for a lefty-loaded lineup. Hernandez is one of baseball’s top right-handed pitchers, and Ventura figures the best way to beat King Felix is by playing the matchups.
The Sox lineup this afternoon will feature five left-handed batters: Alejandro De Aza, DeWayne Wise, Adam Dunn, Conor Gillaspie and Hector Gimenez. With only right-handed hitters left on the South Siders’ bench, Ventura has implanted all the lefties he can into lineup.
For Wise, Gillaspie and Gimenez, today will be their first starts of the 2013 season. With a Cy Young winner toeing the rubber, all three have a tall task ahead of them. That being said, Hernandez doesn’t exactly enjoy facing the Sox at U.S. Cellular Field. In seven career starts at the Cell, King Felix owns a 1-4 record and a 4.75 ERA.
Although the White Sox lineup will be lefty-loaded, it’s a right-handed batter that could be today’s x-factor. I expect hot hitting Gordon Beckham to make a difference in the Sox nine hole this afternoon. Not only is the 26-year old second baseman 5-for-7 in the Pale Hose over last two games, but he also has two HRs and three RBIs in 16 career at-bats against Hernandez.
Now losers of two in a row, the Sox will give the rock to right-hander Dylan Axelrod. With Axelrod only in the Sox rotation due to an injury to John Danks and the talent of Hernandez, this may seem like a David vs. Goliath matchup. However, Seattle has never faced Axelrod, which could give the 27-year old hurler an edge today.
With King Felix looking for career win number 100, the Sox giving some bench guys the opportunity to play and Axelrod trying to prove he belongs on the Sox pitching staff, I expect a lot of energy in this afternoon’s contest.