JEWISH BASEBALL NEWS — As Jewish baseball fans well know, Chicago Cubs reliever John Grabow has had a tough season so far.

An article in yesterday’s Chicago Tribune offered some insight:

Before Tuesday night’s game, left-handed hitters were batting .385 against (fellow reliever Sean) Marshall and .143 against Grabow, but right-handed hitters were batting .455 against Grabow and .240 against Marshall.

The Trib’s comment suggests a simple solution: don’t let Grabow, a lefty, pitch to right-handed batters.

As I dig a bit deeper into the data, however, the solution isn’t so clear. True, across nine games this season, right-handed batters are hitting .440 against Grabow, while lefties are hitting just .111. In fact, Grabow hasn’t given up a single earned run against lefties.

But the discrepancy narrows when you add walks to the mix. Because Grabow has walked more lefties than righties this year, lefties have an on-base average of .385 against him, versus .462 among righties. In other words, Grabow’s propensity to walk lefties has kept their batting average and earned-runs production deceptively low.

Here’s another reason to doubt the wisdom of limiting Grabow’s exposure to lefties: history. From his debut with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2003 through the 2009 season, Grabow did slightly worse among left-handed batters (.263 batting average) than among righties (.254). Thus, Grabow’s current trouble with righties may well be temporary.

Overall, Grabow seems to be coming out of his slump. In the last three appearances, his ERA has dropped from 9.53 to 7.04 and he’s earned two holds.

Unfortunately, Grabow contributed to the Cubs’ 3-1 defeat Tuesday (4/27) with a throwing error that led to an unearned run.

At least it didn’t hurt his ERA.

— Scott Barancik