On Sunday, Andrew Lambo started in left field in Indianapolis. Though it is his natural position over first base, unfortunately it shows what we already knew – how the Ike Davis trade would impact his future with the club.
Lambo, who was given every chance out of Spring Training to take over the platoon job against right-handed pitchers at first base, had a dreadful Spring Training and was demoted to Triple-A.
However, a hot start to the season had some hopeful that Lambo would reclaim what could have been his. It was fairly obvious that Travis Ishikawa was a band-aid, but it was not Lambo who was the cure. It was the trade market and Davis.
With this decision, Lambo has a couple of hopes to end up in the Major Leagues this season. The first hope would be to provide depth in the event that an unfortunate injury would occur. The second option, which seems far more likely, is that he would become trade bait at the deadline if the Pirates are buyers again.
While Lambo could provide organizational depth at first base, the move Sunday to play him in left starts to clear up that the Pirates feel that his future is not at the position.
The key to any of these options are for Lambo to continue his success at Triple-A and to not get discouraged by the roadblock that has been placed in front of him.
Lambo is 13-for-35 in his last 10 games, but is only 2-for-13 in his last three. He has yet to hit a home run in this early season, but does have four doubles. Lambo has gone well over 200 plate appearances since his last home run, including Winter Leagues and Spring Training. Davis provides some pop that Lambo has not shown this year, but Lambo is coming off his 33-homer campaign last season that earned him Pirates Minor League Player of the Year.
Another key is Lambo’s lack of success against right-handed pitching early this season with Indianapolis. He is 4-for-20 facing righties, against 9-for-23 against lefties. If you are looking to a platoon job for Lambo, success against righties is obviously the key and it has been a weakness with the early small sample size. Lambo also has 11 strikeouts in 43 at bats this season.
Davis is also a huge defensive upgrade over Lambo at first. Though Lambo has not looked terrible at the position in Indianapolis, Davis is an above average fielder.
While the decision was made based on the upside of Ike Davis, Lambo did not do a lot this season to prove that he has to be the guy in the platoon.
Ryan has been following Indianapolis baseball for most of his life, and the Pirates since they became the affiliate in 2005. He began writing for Pirates Prospects in 2013, in a stint that ran through 2016 (with no service time manipulation played in). Ryan rejoined the team in 2022, covering Indianapolis once again. He has covered the Pirates in four different big league stadiums. Ryan was also fortunate enough to cover the 2015 Futures Game in Cincinnati.