Is One Lefty in the Pen Enough?

Without Ayala, the answer would appear to be no. Cory Wade has been great for the Yankees. And his strikeout to walk ratio against left-handed batters (5.50) was actually better against left-handed batters than it was against right-handed batters (3.17). But his OPS against is much higher against left-handed batters. Wade had the impressive OPS against of .541 against right-handed batters, but that jumps to an OPS against of .730 against left-handed batters.

Rafael Soriano didn’t have much fun in his first year as a Yankee. The fans turned on him early and he became a bit of a whipping post by writers. It didn’t help that he signed an inflated contract against the wishes of Brian Cashman. Looking at his splits from last year, his sole problem was with left-handed batters. Against right-handed batters, Soriano had a strikeout to walk ratio of 4.30 and they only had an OPS of .477 when facing him. That strikeout to walk ratio shrunk alarmingly to 1.15 against left-handed batters and those types of hitters had an OPS against him of .830. So bringing in Soriano to face a lefty swinging batter isn’t something for those with a weak stomach.

What about Joba Chamberlain when he comes back in June? Well, yes, that will help. Joba has been equally effective against right-handed and left-handed batters in the last two seasons. Once he returns, perhaps the need for a second lefty becomes less at that point. But we still don’t know and won’t know how effective Chamberlain will be until he is actually throwing against major league hitters again.

If the Yankees need a second lefty, is Cesar Cabral that guy? Cabral has been coveted by the Blue Jays, Red Sox and Rays as he was a part of the Rule 5 and waiver roulette year. Nothing can be gained by looking at his first two spring appearances. The sample size and quality of hitters he has faced simply cannot give us any kind of gauge on how effective he is. But his minor league stats show and impressive strikeout rate. He is young but he could be useful. So, yes, Cabral would be the second lefty out of the pen if the Yankees choose to go that route–at least until Joba Chamberlain returns.

If Cabrel travels north with the team once the regular season starts, then an interesting decision will have to be made once Chamberlain returns. Such decisions affect the depth of the Yankees’ bench. Boone Logan has been a nice addition to the Yankees’ bullpen over the last two seasons. He has earned the trust to handle tough situations. But an effective second left-handed option out of the bullpen would be a nice luxury to have.

About William Tasker

William Tasker grew up in Bergenfield, New Jersey but has lived in New England since 1975 and in the far reaches of northern Maine since 1990. Tasker is the author of nine (non-baseball related) books and, besides writing here for three years, has written for his own site at since 2003.

6 thoughts on “Is One Lefty in the Pen Enough?

  1. Logan has become a comfortable sight coming out of the Yankees’ bullpen

    Seriously, you are fired. Turn in your security card, laptop and phone immediately.

    • Great comment to a guy with raging insecurities, boss. Heh. He's a lot less scary than he used to be. But you can't have the laptop. That's mine.

    • Uh-oh William didn't get Jason's memo on Boone Logan…

      Good stuff though. Logan has done better than I think we give him credit, but I agree he's definitely not enough.

  2. From what I see, if Hughes is named the 5th starter and Wade makes the team, then there is only 1 available spot on the 25 man roster (13 batters, 11 pitchers). Based on this it looks like it will go to Cabral as long as he shows positive signs; I don't see Bill Hall/Branyan/Dickerson to make it since Ibanez and Chavez signed a (surprisingly) guaranteed contracts. And Nunez's bat isn't going away any time soon

  3. "Logan has become a comfortable sight coming out of the Yankees’ bullpen."

    You're kidding, right? I get nausea every time he's brought it in.

    You can cite his K/9 ratio and K/BB ratio against lefties all you want but I suggest you look at what happened in between the strikeouts or simply count the times Logan was brought in specifically to face a lefty (the job description of a LOOGY) and failed.

    I really have to question if the usual pitching statistics (advanced or otherwise) tell the whole story with relievers (especially the one-out specialists). Their job is to get the team out of sticky situations – it's plus or minus not a question of their rates per nine innings.

    I'm not a Logan supporter, nor am I a supporter of the LOOGY concept. I'm all for having lefties in the bullpen but they need to be guys who can get all kinds of hitters out. I really, really dislike the idea of "lefty specialists" like Rapada, who apparently turns all right handed hitters into Miguel Cabrera, even more than I dislike guys like Logan (who isn't really all that effective against lefties).

  4. Fair enough, roadrider. Your comments are valid and especially agree with the whole LOOGY thing. But the thought still is that a good reliever succeeds more than he fails and Logan does that.