NYY

Neutralizing Hamilton is Key

In his free agent year, Texas Rangers’ Josh Hamilton is having one of the best years of his career, almost assuring him of a hefty contract in the offseason. Tonight, and for the next three days after, the Yankees will have a front and center view of the potential American League MVP, as the Texas Rangers will come into the Bronx for an important series in what could be a playoff preview. Without left-hander CC Sabathia, the Yankees will have all right-handers starting in this series. Since Hamilton is a power lefty bat hitting in right-field-friendly Yankee Stadium, the Yankees’ success could come down to how the two southpaws in the bullpen perform in late-game situations.

Both Clay Rapada and Boone Logan have performed very well this season out of the pen. While Rapada has become the lefty-specialist, Logan has been a guy that Girardi thinks can get both left and right-handed batters out. Rapada has pitched to 3-0 record, with an ERA of 2.87, 1.62 at home, while holding lefties to a batting average of .195. Logan is 4-0, 3.46, .221 batting average against lefties.

Since the two are the only lefties right now on the team, the Yankees hope they can neutralize Hamilton late in the game in big situations. For his career against Logan, Hamilton is 0-for-4 with two strikeouts. Obviously a small sample size, but impressive nonetheless that Hamilton hasn’t managed anything. Against Rapada, Hamilton is 0-for-1. On the season and for his career, Hamilton has hit lefties pretty consistently. In 2012, Hamilton is hitting .285 with nine homers and 34 RBI. Lifetime, he is a .279 hitter with 42 home runs and 155 RBI. Overall this season, Hamilton is hitting .291 with 32 homers and 99 RBI.

With Phelps, Kuroda, Garcia and Nova going in this series, look for Girardi to mix and match his bullpen lefties in order to stop Hamilton. Although many people may not agree with Girardi’s lineup ideas, there is no questioning his ability to handle the bullpen. If these games are close late and Hamilton is up, expect Girardi to call on Logan or Rapada. Their success is vital to the Yankees success this series.

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