Seth McClung vs. Bruce "Chipmunk" Chen
Interesting lineup. The right players are in there for facing a left-handed pitcher but the order is....odd.
Left-hander tonight so Gomes is in there, will be interesting to see if he starts consistently against right-handed pitchers. We're still far from truly meaningful sample sizes for him but with that in mind here's a quick look at how his performance against right-handed pitching compares to that of another young right-handed Rays outfielder, one who has never had questions about whether or not he should play every day.
Rocco 2003: .285/.323/.396/.719
Rocco 2004: .264/.308/.401/.709
Gomes 2005: .230/.310/.446/.755
Interesting comparison. Gomes has a big power edge and his OBP is similar to Rocco's 2004 but the average is way down. The Equivalent Average stat from Baseball Prospectus gives a better idea of the total contribution from the hitting lines (and also includes the value from basestealing) but isn't available in split form. BPro does provide the formula for the raw form of it though and that's good enough for a general idea. The adjustments made to it don't matter too much since we're looking at players from the same team and with it not scaled down to the .260 average the number is closer to OPS numbers than batting average.
Rocco 2003: .752
Rocco 2004: .738
Rocco Total: .745
Gomes 2005: .774
That closes the gap slightly, especially with Rocco's 2003 since getting on base is more important than hitting for power. Still, Gomes clearly comes out ahead.
This isn't meant to target Rocco's flaws, I just want to illustrate how the way Gomes has struggled against right-handed pitching isn't the issue that Piniella's actions might make you think. One thing to keep an eye on with Rocco when he comes back is how he fares against right-handers. His performance against them declined from 2003 to 2004, hopefully he'll reverse that trend and progress towards becoming a force against pitchers from both sides.