The lineups for tonight's tilt against the Indians have been released, and a quick glance at Ron Gardenhire's lineup has confirmed my fears: Delmon Young is starting in left field, and Jim Thome is on the bench.
This is egregious because Cleveland's starter in the game is Justin Masterson, a grounder-inducing righty who delivers from a three-quarters slot. Almost without exception, pitchers that throw from this angle are extremely vulnerable to opposite-handed batters (think Pat Neshek) and Masterson is certainly no exception. During his career, left-handed hitters have posted an OPS nearly 300 points higher than righties against him. That's not a platoon split, it's a chasm. It's an enormous, glaring number that should make the decision to bench a player like Young -- who already hits the ball on the ground too often and has always struggled to hit right-handed pitching -- an absolute no-brainer.
When Gardenhire made a similarly misguided decision earlier this month, I pointed out that the thinking behind his decision was "a significant flaw in Gardy's managerial approach, and one that is likely to manifest repeatedly throughout the season." Here, we see it again, in an even more inexcusable situation. Like last time, this is but one lineup decision and odds are that it won't be the deciding factor in tonight's game, but we're seeing a manager overlooking blatantly obvious statistical evidence and failing to put key players in a position to succeed.