Jamal has been a writer for Bleacher Report since 2010 focused strictly on the Rays. He has had his work featured on websites such as Forbes, USA Today, CBS Sports, Houston Chronicle and the LA Times. Jamal is a special correspondent for 620wdae.com covering the Tampa Bay Rays.
What if Matt Joyce could hit left-handed pitchers?
The 29-year-old has had arguably the best start to the 2014 season of any of the Tampa Bay Rays hitters. So far this season he is batting .347/.452/.571 including five doubles and two home runs.
A deeper dive into his performance so far this year reveals even more about the level he is playing at.
Joyce is hitting .357 with runners in scoring position which is pivotal for this offense that looks like it can’t score a single run some nights. He also has compiled a .357 average in his 28 at-bats that had two strikes in the count.
All of his success this year has come against right-handed pitchers. He has a .395/.500/.651 split against righties in his 56 plate appearances.
Joyce has yet to get a hit off of a left-handed pitcher this season and has recorded a strikeout in half of his at-bats against them. Sure, the sample size is small with only six at-bats but this disparity is nothing new.
Over his career Joyce has a .190/.265/.315 line against lefties compared to his .264/.358/.486 line against righties. He averages a strikeout for every three at-bats against southpaws. This makes it very easy for the Rays to keep him limited to a platoon role.
If he was able to find success against lefties, he could be utilized more to make up for the slump left fielder David DeJesus has been going through. Prior to his three-hit performance Tuesday night against the Minnesota Twins, DeJesus had not had a hit in his previous eight games.
Instead, Joyce has been out of the starting lineup four times in the Rays’ last eight games and utilized as a pinch hitter. All four of those games were started by left-handed pitchers.
Joyce’s at-bat song asks the question, “Turn Down for What.” Unfortunately, the answer still seems to be left-handed pitchers.
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