Philadelphia Inquirer’s own Phils beat writer Matt Gelb recently tweeted that John Mayberry, a right-handed bat, will be playing first base today in place of Ryan Howard.
With a right-handed pitcher on the mound, the move makes no sense if you took a quick glance. Howard has been a major leaguer since 2005, and despite his lack of success against left-handed pitching, he has much better success against right-handers.
But San Diego’s right-hander is no ordinary pitcher. It’s Mat Latos.
Now, some of you are laughing right now as you read this. “Who the hell is Mat Latos?” “This guy is a scrub!” “Why is Howard sitting against Latos such a big deal?”
I’ll tell you why. Not only does Howard have two hits in his last 28 at-bats, Howard is a career .000 hitter against Latos in nine plate appearances. In the eight total at-bats, Howard was struck out every single time, managing only a walk against Latos.
That’s right, folks. Ryan Howard makes Mat Latos look like Roger Clemens.
Maybe it’s Latos’ breaking pitchers. Maybe it’s how Latos hides the ball, preventing Howard from seeing it out of his hand until it’s too late (a possibility I noticed earlier in the season when Latos fanned Howard a few times). Or maybe it’s those stupid tattoos on Latos’ arms distracting Howard.
Whatever the deal is, Charlie Manuel is opting with the young right-handed Mayberry to get the job done today, and for crying out loud, put the bat on the ball against Latos.