Fredi deploys lefty heavy lineup to combat Fernandez
ATLANTA -- Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez could have given many of his regulars a chance to exact some revenge against Jose Fernandez on Tuesday night at Marlins Park. Instead, he opted to empty his bench and fill his lineup with as many left-handed hitters as possible to face Fernandez, who recorded 14 strikeouts over eight innings last week at Turner Field.
Gonzalez sat four of his right-handed regulars -- Justin Upton, B.J. Upton, Chris Johnson and Dan Uggla -- in favor of Ryan Doumit, Jordan Schafer, Ramiro Pena and Tyler Pastornicky. The Pastornicky-instead-of-Uggla decision was the only one that did not substitute a left-handed option for a right-handed hitter.
"I put all of our left-handed hitters in there and put some guys in there that put the ball in play," Gonzalez said. "The only thing I didn't like about it is we were coming off an off-day [on Monday]. I didn't like that, but the more I spoke to the coaches and the [players], 'Why not?' Also your bench plays. I'm big about getting your bench some at-bats."
Fernandez has limited right-handed hitters to a .165 batting average and .210 on-base percentage in 33 career starts. He proved more successful against left-handers last year (.188 BAA and .283 OBP) than he has thus far this year (.276/.344).
While B.J. Upton put the ball in play during each of his three at-bats against Fernandez last week, his younger brother Justin Upton and Uggla both struck out in each of their three plate appearances against the dominant right-hander. Johnson notched one of the three hits Fernandez surrendered -- an opposite-field single in the eighth inning.