In some ways it's a little unfair to single one person out after and impotent offensive output like last night, but this has been a long time coming for Nick Swisher.
It's not that Swish is having bad luck at the plate, hitting balls hard but having them find defenders. He's having poor at bats, not working walks and missing hittable pitches. In his three at bats last night, he popped out softly to first, flew out softly to right and struck out looking on a change up right down the middle in the 8th inning.
In the first two at bats, Lee threw a lot of tough pitches, staying away from Swisher or keeping it below his knees. But in the third one, six out of the seven pitches he threw were directly in the middle of the strikezone (follow the link for higher resolution):
Swish was even given a generous ball on the second pitch of the at bat - the green square which was clearly high enough and right down the pike. So what did Swisher do with the five (really 6) pitches that were in his - or Major League hitter's - wheelhouse? He took three for strikes (and one for a ball) and fouled the other two off.
You don't take
three four strikes in those respective locations in one at bat unless you are completely lost at the plate and are simply resorting to guessing. You don't foul the other two off unless your rhythm and timing are out of whack.
You don't take
It was as if Lee & Ruiz had figured out that Swisher wasn't going to hit the ball no matter where it was and decided to just lay it right down the middle.
Yes, it's one at bat, but it's emblematic of how awful Swisher has been since Game 2 of the ALDS. He got a great pitch to hit in the last at bat of Game 5 out in Anaheim from Brain Fuentes and couldn't do anything with that either. He's hitting .114/.205/.143 this postseason and still starting every game. He's walked three times and struck out 12. He has four hits in 40 plate appearances, only one of which has gone for extra bases.
Swisher is prone to extended slumps and he picked a pretty terrible time to have one of his worst of the year. The sporadic schedule has probably negatively affected as a switch hitter since he has two swings that he needs to keep working and both have seemingly fallen into a state of disrepair.
I'm well aware that this is going to sound stupid and I'm certain Joe Girardi won't do it, but what has to happen for Brett Gardner to start in center field and Melky Cabrera in right? How bad does Swisher have to be before you give him the night off? Because I don't think he could get much worse. At least the alternative would provide a significant defensive upgrade in the outfield, something that's not nearly as hit or miss from game to game.
With Pedro starting in Game 2, Swisher is going to have to spin around and hit from the left side of the plate. He hasn't batted lefty since Game 5 in Anaheim which was a full week ago, but again, pretty much anything would be an improvement over how he looked last night. In his career, he tends to get one base a little better against lefties and hit for power more successfully against RHP. Either of those things would be fantastic.
I would love for Swisher to go out tonight and jack a homer or drive in a couple of runs and shut me and his other critics up. But there are absolutely no signs that he will. You can say he's due, but that's not what his at bats are saying.
Please Nick, do something, anything before the postseason is over. Bad Octobers make for long offseasons. And it's going to be a couple days longer if you don't get it going soon.