The St. Louis Cardinals are babying Nolan Gorman against left-handed pitching
The St. Louis Cardinals refuse to let Nolan Gorman hit against lefties for reasons beyond my comprehension.
Nolan Gorman entered the 2023 season as a changed man on the baseball field. He is no longer susceptible to the fastball, hitting .375 against it so far after managing a meager .194 last season. His eye at the plate has transformed into one of the best in the game; he now walks in 13.4% of his plate appearances.
So why is manager Oliver Marmol so reluctant to let Gorman hit against left-handed pitchers?
Gorman has 67 plate appearances on the year, and 63 of those are against right-handed pitchers. That leaves four plate appearances that he has taken against southpaws. He is 0 for 4 in those chances. Last season, his first year in the major leagues, only 23 of Gorman's 313 plate appearances were against lefties. He hit .211 in that small sample size.
Marmol seems to be so dead-set against hitting Gorman against lefties that he is subbing Gorman out when opposing left-handed pitchers enter the game so he can get a matchup advantage. If he continues doing this, teams will catch on and switch out their pitchers in clutch spots so they can get Marmol to remove Gorman from the game.
It's a head-scratcher as to why Gorman is being restricted to just hitting against right-handers. It could be that his splits in the minor leagues are less than ideal against lefties, but this is a drastically different player from the one who debuted with the Cardinals last year. There is one warning sign regarding Gorman, and that's his whiff rate, which, while improved, is still in the 21st percentile among major leaguers, and that could be further exposed against lefties.
One theory I can throw out is that because Gorman is producing so well this season, Marmol doesn't want him to experience struggles and have issues against lefties get to his head, thus affecting his performance against right-handers as well.
Still, Marmol can't keep these kid gloves on Gorman forever. Starting Gorman at designated hitter gives Marmol more leeway to decide on whom he wants in the role at any given time during a game, but at some point, he has to start putting trust in Gorman and letting him hit against left-handers. Otherwise, Marmol is hurting Gorman's development and allowing opponents to take advantage of his lack of confidence in the slugger.