Few things have gone right for the 2013 Chicago Cubs. With a 5-13 record, the Cubs couldn’t make it out of Apr. before they became contenders for the No. 1 pick in the 2014 MLB June Draft. It’s frustrating because this team could’ve flipped that win-loss record with better fundamentals and a ninth-inning man.
One reason for their troubles has come against southpaws. The Cubs have lost all four of their starts against left-handed pitchers. Dave Sappelt and Scott Hairston are both hitting below .120. What makes it worse is that two of the Cubs’ hottest hitters, David DeJesus and Nate Schierholtz, are benched during these games.
Play the hot hand? Not according to Cubs manager Dale Sveum. Sveum believes in his platoon role. And on Apr. 23, Sveum probably won’t make any lineup adjustments when his team faces Cincinnati Reds left-handed pitcher Tony Cingrani.
Schierholtz has a .321 batting average with two homers and eight RBI. He’s been one of the few surprises on a team who has a cleanup hitter who has one homer and two RBI. For his career, Schierholtz has a .284 batting average against southpaws. That’s higher than his average against right-handed pitchers. Yet, Sveum refuses to let Schierholtz play against them because that violates the platoon philosophy.
Why not take advantage of that hot hand? Why disrupt his momentum? Baseball is a game of streaks. A player should see more action when he’s playing well. Schierholtz couldn’t possibly give this team any less of a chance against southpaws.
Let’s see how long it takes before Sveum adjusts. Maybe Sappelt and Hairston will heat up and fans will forget about this. But with the problems that this team had when they used this same philosophy in 2012, fans shouldn’t count on it.