Ryan Howard has never produced consistently against southpaws and could benefit from staying off his feet.
Aside from a means to justify the terms of his long-term contract, there aren’t many logical arguments to support starting Howard against tough left-handed pitching. Of his 33 homers last season, only three came at the expense of a lefty, against whom he produced a .634 OPS. Meanwhile, the Phils have uncovered a diamond in the rough in John Mayberry Jr. whose bat should definitely find its way onto the field against left-handed pitching (.953 OPS). He has the virtue of fitting at all three outfield spots and at first base.
In a sense, Mayberry and Howard could have a symbiotic relationship in which Howard stays sharper and is shielded from the bad match-ups that knock him out of sorts, for weeks, while Mayberry benefits from the extra chances against lefties. Howard is a defensive liability; that much is certain. Could Mayberry be much worse? Plus, the Phillies would pick up one hell of a pinch hitter. In 36 career plate appearances off the bench, Howard is a career .438 hitter with six home runs.
Ty Wigginton is a part of this discussion, too, since he can still hit lefties at a decent clip (.796 OPS) and could also spell Chase Utley, who was a woeful .182 hitter against lefties last season. Utley and Howard, back-to-back against a lefty, or even in the same lineup against a tough lefty ... something needs to give there. That’s a separate conversation; how do you handle Utley so he isn’t deflated by the middle of summer ...