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« Zito Paints Corners, Proves Us Wrong | Main | Adam Wainwright's Wicked Curve »

Zito Faces Long Odds vs. Cards' Lefty Killing Lineup

Two years ago, as the San Francisco Giants captured a World Series title, Barry Zito was baseball's equivalent of a healthy scratch. The lefty became a $20 million cheerleader after manager Bruce Bochy left him off the playoff roster. Tonight, however, Zito is tasked with saving the Giants' season in Game 5 of the NLCS. Considering Zito's major platoon split and the Cardinals' lefty-killing lineup, chances are St. Louis will crack open the bubbly.

Zito has been stellar against left-handed hitters this season, holding them to a .299 slugging percentage. That's far below the .378 average for lefty starters against lefty hitters. But righties are a different story:

Zito's slugging percentage by pitch location vs. righty hitters in 2012

Righties are slugging .468 against Zito, about 50 points above the MLB average for lefty starters against righty batters. The only qualified lefty starters with a higher opponent slugging percentage against righties are Randy Wolf, Joe Saunders, Bruce Chen, Derek Holland, J.A. Happ and Clayton Richard.

So, Zito gets smoked by righty hitters. What's even worse for the Giants is the Cardinals' lefty-thumping prowess. St. Louis' righty hitters are slugging .477 against lefty pitchers this season, ranking behind just the Milwaukee Brewers (.482) among all clubs. Allen Craig (.630 slugging percentage vs. lefties), Matt Holliday, Yadier Molina (.613 each) and Carlos Beltran (.500) have inflicted the most pain on southpaws.

Good luck, Barry. You'll need it.

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