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Playing With Matchups: A's @ Sox, 6/3/09

Yet another starter the Sox have never seen.  And a lefty no less.  So this will go well, right?

Contrary to appearances, the White Sox do indeed have an advanced scouting department.  In the very least, they appear to know enough to get their lefties the hell out of the lineup to the extent they can against Outman.  Pods and Thome remain and at least the latter has shown he deserves a shot.  He's shown a ton of power against LHP the last year or so, having refined his opposite field power stroke significantly.  He's actually ISO'd more against lefties in his age 38 and 39 seasons than he had for his career against LHP.  I guess that's a HoFer for you. 

Pods...well, that probably won't go well.  Outman blows average lefty hitters away, having struck out 26 of the 68 he's faced in his MLB career.  He's got a deep enough arsenal between a curve, a slurvy slider and his plus fastball to take care of most LHB with ease.  In the start I watched, it took him a little while to get his velo into his 91-93 plateau, but he completely wiped out Josh Hamilton without having to rely on the heater.  As good as Thome is, he struggles against breaking balls in the zone.  That will be Outman's challenge, as his command and control have been poor his entire career.

And against righties his control has been significantly worse, having walked about 10% of RHB over the course of his career.  The slider and curve are mostly negated by the platoon swap and he has to rely on a fastball/change combo.  I don't think his change is more than average and it's not a groundball-type fastball.  Consequently, he's allowed a .276/.354/.444 line to RHB in his young careeer.  If his command is solid and the change is playing up, he could shut down the righties, but that's been pretty rare for him over the course of his career.  A night game could make it tough to get the ball out of the ballpark, but I saw the Rangers have success taking him to the opposite field with authority.  If they adjust properly, it should be a pretty good matchup for the Sox tonight.  They should have a serious advantage in power and free passes.

Why?  Clayton Richard should be able to take two of Oakland's biggest bats out of play.  Jack Cust and Jason Giambi both hit lefthanded and Clayton has been a serious jerk to lefties so far.  For his career, he's given up a .260/.301/.339 slash line to lefties.  Righties have mashed him, but other than Matt Holliday (who scares us all), the A's just don't have any really frightening RHB.  The A's are going to have to hit doubles and take walks.  As long as Richard limits the latter (especially in front of Holliday), he should have a solid outing.