As the Mets attempt to punch their ticket to the World Series tonight in Game 4, they'll start lefty Steven Matz. A top young arm in most units is instead the de facto weak link of a loaded rotation stifling the Cubs, but the rookie's handedness offers an edge heading into Game 4.
Matz is the first lefty to start in a series in which Chicago has logged one at-bat against a southpaw. During Game 2, Jon Niese struck out the left-handed Anthony Rizzo to extinguish a sixth-inning rally. Besides that lone out, Terry Collins has stuck with Addison Reed, Tyler Clippard, and Jeurys Familia out of the bullpen rather than rolling the dice on Sean Gilmartin.
The Cubs faced one left-handed starter in the National League Division Series, when Jaime Garcia started Game 2. They chased him out after two innings, but there's little to learn from a bizarre five-run second frame. In an unrepeatable, uncharacteristic sequence from both parties, the Cardinals committed two errors while the Cubs drove in two runs on sacrifice bunts. If the Cubs want to spend Wednesday evening bunting, have at it, but that'd be like the Mets looking to break another tie with a decisive RBI strikeout.
Looking at this season's final tallies, the Cubs fared worse against Leftorium customers. They finished the season fifteenth with a .313 wOBA against everyone, but their .303 wOBA versus lefties ranked twenty-first.
Their strikeout woes are well documented, so their 29 punchouts against New York's power arms shouldn't draw anyone off guard. But those troubles worsened against southpaws this season, as they struck out 26.2 percent of the time they faced them, compared to 24.0 percent against righties.
Interestingly enough, Rizzo led the way with a 145 wRC+ against lefties—identical to his split against righties. He's a career .244/.343/.416 hitter against southpaws. Starlin Castro, who has spent the postseason in the No. 5 hole due to his September surge, slugged .321 off southpaws this season. Over his career, however, he has fared slightly better against them.
The best part of tossing out a lefty against the Cubs? Matz should mitigate baseball murderer Kyle Schwarber. In 61 plate appearances against lefties this season, he hit .143/.213/.268 with 27 strikeouts. As a result, Austin Jackson started in left field instead of Schwarber against Garcia.
Is Schwarber's power potential enough to start a defensive liability with heavily unfavorable splits? Probably not. Then again, an article about the Mets' batters against lefties before the postseason started could have reasonably argued in favor of sitting Daniel Murphy.