The Los Angeles Dodgers have won the National League pennant in each of the last two seasons, reached three straight NL Championship Series and have won the NL West in each of the past six years. The team does not have many glaring flaws.
One of its biggest deficiencies during the Dave Roberts era, though, has been an inability to hit left-handed pitching. The Dodgers performed significantly worse against lefties in both 2016 and 2018, so much so that postseason opponents routinely tried to exploit that platoon disadvantage.
The Dodgers’ offense relies on the likes Cody Bellinger, Corey Seager and Max Muncy — and Adrian Gonzalez before them — all of whom hit from the left side. Bellinger, Seager and Muncy are at least playable against southpaws even if their performance dips.
Joc Pederson, on the other hand, routinely sits against left-handed pitchers thanks to his .179/.261/.309 career slash line against them.
The Dodgers’ lineup is more heavily right-handed this season, with Kiké Hernandez and Austin Barnes joining Justin Turner as everyday starters. Additionally, the Dodgers signed A.J. Pollock to further balance their lineup.
However, Pollock will miss significant time after being forced to undergo elbow surgery. Roberts nonetheless expressed confidence his club would still be able to succeed against left-handers with the team already in place, per SportsNet LA:
“I think that obviously A.J., this winter was a big part of that, to kind of balance out our lineup. But if you look at the guys that have hit left-handed pitching throughout their career, really haven’t yet (in 2019). It’s a long season, I don’t know how many lefties we’ve faced up to this point, but we’re going to have a lot this week. I think the numbers will start to correct themselves a little bit.”
Despite success so far in 2019, some of the same issues against lefties seem to remain. Entering Friday, the Dodgers have a team batting average of just .237 against lefties, which ranks 18th overall.
That’s compared to a .263 against righties, good for fourth-best. Their collective .822 on-base plus slugging percentage is second-best in the Majors, and though it dips to .751 against lefties, that still ranks 12th.
Barnes and Turner have both struggled mightily versus lefties this season despite only slight platoon splits over their careers. Barnes is hitting just .111 with a horrid .394 OPS, while Turner has a .225 batting average and .645 OPS off southpaws despite hitting .309 with a .740 OPS against right-handers.