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the truth outs re izzy's hip; glad it didn't necessitate 2 or 3 more bad outings for that to happen. he effectively goes onto the DL now, and we may not see him again this year. i have to believe the hip has been a season-long irritant; it would help explain both the lack of movement on jason's cut fastball and the outrageous walk rate. bryan burwell's column makes a nice statement; next time we see isringhausen on the mound, whenever that is, i hope he'll be physically sound.

adam wainwright made a nice statement, too, with his easy 9th last night. i don't want to discount that outing at all -- how refreshing to see a pitcher attacking aggressively in the 9th innng; he was stellar -- but i'm suspending judgment until i see how wainwright responds in a few cases like this: one-run game, men on base, dangerous hitter at the plate. the article linked at the beginning of this post indicates that tony n dave are leaning toward wainwright, not looper, as the 9th-inning guy; the rookie! i'm pleasantly surprised. but in truth, i'd just as soon they dispense with the closer role altogether and play matchups / situations from the 7th inning on. looper, wainwright, hancock, flores, sosa --- all these guys are capable of getting the last out on a given day. i daresay even brad thompson could serve in a pinch, if the 9th brought up the bottom of some team's batting order.

the stretch run just got more interesting.

the last line of derrick goold's game wrap today caught my eye. he's referencing gonzo's 3d-inning home run off jeff weaver: "Gonzalez's was the 11th home run by a lefthander off Weaver since the righthanded pitcher came to St. Louis." that's 11 hr in 136 plate appearances, or one hr for every 12 lefties weaver has faced. in a playoff start against the new york mets, who can start 5 lhb or switch-hitters (reyes beltran delgado green and floyd/chavez), weaver would likely pitch to 12 left-handed hitters before the end of the 5th inning -- if he lasted that long. to put this into context, the overall major-league average this year is one hr per 35 plate appearances; so weaver's rate vs left-handers is three times as high.

goold's note prompted me to investigate weaver's platoon splits -- has anybody written about this before? -- whereupon i discovered that left-handers have been a long-standing curse for this hurler. here are the career splits weaver carried into the 2006 season:

avg obp slg pa / hr pa /
bb + hbp
vs rhb .251 .294 .370 55 17
vs lhb .284 .349 .467 33 10.5

for a starting pitcher that's a noteworthy split, although not a catastrophic one. but now let's isolate the last two seasons, 2005 and 2006:

avg obp slg pa / hr pa /
bb + hbp
vs rhb .229 .265 .377 34 20
vs lhb .319 .381 .558 19.5 11

the split has been getting worse. remember, this table encompasses nearly two full seasons' worth of pitching -- pretty healthy-sized sample. now let's just isolate 2006 -- and, below that, his 11 starts with the cardinals:

avg obp slg pa / hr pa /
bb + hbp
2006 overall
vs rhb .260 .309 .424 37 16.5
vs lhb .348 .411 .623 16 11.2
2006 stl only
vs rhb .217 .261 .287 142 18
vs lhb .385 .459 .726 13 8

zoinks. he keeps getting progressively worse v left-handers --- since joining st louis he has been defenseless v them. but he's extremely hard on right-handers -- which, given the movement on his slider, is not terribly difficult to understand. a lot of rhp ditch their sliders altogether vs left-handed hitters, or only use it as a waste pitch; i'll have to start watching weaver to see if he uses the slider differently. might be that he simply can't get left-handed batters to bite on the slider.

whatever the case -- and think out loud with me for a second -- these splits make weaver seem like a very unattractive option for a postseason start vs either the mets or phillies, both of whom have such a potent arsenal of left-handed bats. the mets lead the league in slugging vs rhp by a long shot -- only the braves are within 15 points of them in that category -- and the phillies are 3d; those teams rank 2-3 in OPS vs right-handers. (the cardinals, by the way, are 4th in both categories.) and we've already seen weaver face the phillies, mets, and braves -- didn't last beyond 5 innings vs any of them, nor hold any below 4 runs.

in light of present circumstances, i can imagine the cardinals moving weaver into a relief role vs one of those clubs and saving him for a specific matchup --- the mets' wright or lo duca, the phils' burrell or lieberthal. he has pitched out of the pen before, he throws strikes -- why not? gotta be creative sometimes. but if st louis faces the mets or phils and weaver doesn't start . . . then we're looking at marquis for at least one start.

which brings me back to . . . . . zoinks.