There is no doubt some concern, not only amongst the fans, but also among the Tigers organization about the status of Delmon Young heading into action on Saturday. Young strained his oblique in his last at-bat against the Yankees on Thursday, and had to be taken out of the game. On the face of things this is a huge blow to the Tigers. Young provided a struggling offense with some pop, hitting 3 homers against the Yankees in the divisional series.
But don’t forget about Ryan Raburn.
I don’t think there is a more ideal team for Ryan Raburn to potentially make an impact against. The Rangers are going to run out 3 left-handed starters in the series against the Tigers, and the right-handed hitting Raburn tends to lay waste against lefties. This year, in a subpar offensive year for Raburn, he has an OPS of .807 against lefties. This number is even greater in the 2nd half which Raburn is famous for.
After starting the year terribly, Raburn warmed up once again in the 2nd half, posting a slash line of .341/.393/.574 for an OPS of .967. For a guy that is coming off the bench right now, his bat is a good option in case Young cannot go in game 1 against lefty C.J. Wilson.
Since the Rangers are starting 3 lefties, I wanted to go more in depth with how Raburn does specifically against the Rangers. In 2011, I wasn’t all that surprised to see that Raburn tore up Rangers pitching. In fact, Raburn appears to like hitting against Texas more than any other American League team this season. It is just 28 at-bats, but Raburn has batted .423 with an OPS of 1.080 against Texas pitching.
Raburn has faced all of the Texas left-handed starters but doesn’t have a long history against them. He has the most at-bats against Matt Harrison, and he has absolutely owned him. Raburn is 8 for 13 against Harrison, with 2 doubles, 2 home runs, and 7 RBI. He has only 3 plate appearances against Derek Holland and is 0 for 1 officially, getting hit by a pitch and walking his other two plate appearances. Against Saturday’s starter C.J. Wilson? Raburn is 2 for 3 against Wilson with a double and an RBI. Heck, Raburn is even 2 for 5 against righty Colby Lewis with two doubles and 3 RBI.
While past success against pitchers isn’t necessarily a predictor of future success, it does suggest a comfort level for Raburn against the Rangers and their pitchers. Fans can take a little solace in the Tigers having a viable replacement for Young should he not be able to go. Young was obviously a big part of the series win against the Yankees, but this team has been built on all its’ roster contributing.
Even if Delmon Young is healthy enough to play and produce, the numbers presented beg for Raburn to get some at-bats somewhere, and we might see him at 2B, or even possibly RF.
It’s time for Ryan Raburn to step up, he could clearly be a very key player for the Tigers in this series.