In response to this conversation among Jonah Keri, Sam Miller and DRaysBay, I asked Joe Maddon at his pregame press conference in Boston about the decision to make right-handed-hitting Delmon Young his DH against righties as opposed to the left-handed Matt Joyce. Boston will pitch righties John Lackey, Clay Buchholz and Jake Peavy in Games 2, 3 and 4 respectively.
Of course this is not brand new today. Young also started the wild card game against Cleveland righty Danny Salazar, so I asked Maddon in the context of whether he’s an everyday DH now or whether it’s only certain types of righties. You should read the above link to the conversation, and here are some stats to know as you read Maddon’s answer.
Young in September: .258/.329/.452 plus 2-for-6, HR, BB, K in postseason
Joyce in September: .089/.232/.143 plus 0-for-1, K in postseason
RHB vs. Lackey (2013): .258/.297/.463
LHB vs. Lackey (2013): .238/.285/.374
If you want to break it down sabermetrically, there's absolutely different righties that he's better against than others. I'll concede that point right now. The thing is with Delmon, right now I believe that he is kind of locked in and I think he's had really good at-bats against some tough right-handers also. If you really want to break down all of our right-handers, there's going to be different right-handed pitchers they're all going to have difficult moments against. Delmon's really demonstrated the ability to come through in key moments at the end of the season, and I believe in that kind of stuff too beyond numbers. I think that there's a certain group of people that are really able to rise to moments or occasions and he's proven that.
Of course normally, it would be Matt Joyce over him – I'm just giving you the straight skinny. But right now, I think that Delmon's playing at a different level when it comes to a mental at-bat quite frankly. It's not like I've lost confidence in Matt Joyce, I just think that Delmon's playing at a different level offensively. So we'll find out today.
You look at John Lackey's body of work – there's a reverse to his numbers this year in particular also. I don't know if I'm right or wrong. I guess nine innings of baseball always show you that or not. But going into the game, I like what Delmon's done more recently.