I am not concerned in the least that the Orioles will begin the season with just one left-hander in the bullpen.
First of all, pitchers like Mark Hendrickson, Clay Rapada, Troy Patton and Chris George all may start on the Triple-A staff and will be a phone call away if needed.
Also, there is this big reason not to be concerned: The stat sheet says it won’t be an issue.
Of the six right-handed hurlers in the O’s pen, all but Koji Uehara have better statistics either recently and/or in their careers against lefty hitters as opposed to right-handed hitters.
Even Koji has decent stats against lefty hitters. Last year, he yielded a batting average against of .263 against lefties and .185 against right-handed batters. In 2009 with the O’s, he held right-handed batters to a .266 average and lefties to .273.
Kevin Gregg was tougher against lefties last year by a .225 to .248 margin and is better in his career against lefties by a .227 to .252 batting average.
Jim Johnson gives up a career average of .253 to lefty batters as opposed to .272 for right. Last year he went .264 to .327 with the better number against lefties.
In his career, Jeremy Accardo is much better against left-handed batters, who have hit just .205 with an OPS of .571 against him, while righty batters hit .294 against him.
Jason Berken was better against lefties last year by a .253 to .279 margin.
Josh Rupe pitched just 9 2/3 innings in the majors last season with Kansas City. In that small sample, lefties hit .278 against him and righties batted. 391.
Rupe’s Triple-A numbers last year at Omaha were good overall and very good against lefty hitters. On the season in 2010, Rupe went 2-4 with an ERA of 2.92 over 52 1/3 minor league innings. He also had an amazing 3.74 ground-to-air ratio last summer at Omaha, by the way.
Left-handed batters hit just .191 at Omaha against Rupe in 2010, while right-handed batters hit .288.
In his major league career, which spans 142 1/3 innings, Rupe has an average against of .290 against lefty batters to .297 for right-handed hitters.
That is a load of stats, but you get the point. These right-handed bullpen pitchers can handle themselves vs. left-handed batters.
This could bode well if the O’s choose to go for a long stretch with just the one lefty, Mike Gonzalez, in that pen.