OAKLAND -- The Tigers' struggles to score runs in the American League Division Series have caught many by surprise. To those who have followed the Tigers for much of the year, though, seeing Detroit struggle against left-handed starting pitchers is not breaking news.
Odd as it seems for a team with no shortage of dangerous right-handed hitters, the Tigers batted 22 points lower against left-handed pitching (.253) than right-handers (.275) during the regular season. The difference in slugging percentage is more pronounced, with a 39-point gap.
A look through the roster at some of their right-handers tells the gaps. Miguel Cabrera hits slightly better for average against right-handers, but more eye-catching, hit just four home runs off lefties in the regular season. Jhonny Peralta batted just .214 off lefties this year as part of his struggling season at the plate, though he knocked out a hit and a walk off Brett Anderson on Tuesday. Gerald Laird, who catches most games against lefties, hit them for a .204 average, faring far better against righties.
Perhaps the biggest absence, though, was Ryan Raburn's previously respectable lefty-hitting bat. He hit southpaws for better than a .900 OPS in 2009 and 2010, then dropped off a bit last year but still hit .274 with seven home runs off them. He hit just 15-for-91 off them this season before ending the season on the disabled list.
Raburn's struggles, then his eventual loss, was one reason behind the Tigers promoting right-handed-hitting prospect Avisail Garcia at the end of August. He has held his own against lefties since his arrival, though he did not have an extra-base hit.
The good news for the Tigers was that Anderson was the last Oakland lefty starter they are set to face, though Sean Doolittle's presence in the bullpen looms large.