Dodgers News: Dave Roberts To Start More ‘Mature’ Joc Pederson Against Justin Verlander, Astros In Game 6
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Joc Pederson is expected to be in the lineup for Game 6 of the World Series when the Los Angeles Dodgers face Justin Verlander and the Houston Astros in a must-win scenario. The start will be Pederson’s fourth in the Fall Classic and third in the past four games.

His first came in Game 2, in which Pederson hit a game-tying home run off Verlander. That the young outfielder is factoring prominently in the World Series, or even on the Dodgers’ roster is a surprise in and of itself.

Pederson was demoted to Triple-A Oklahoma City when the team acquired Curtis Granderson in August. He returned in September, but no longer with a starting job. “I think that it forced him to mature as a baseball player,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said of sending Pederson to the Minors.

“I think it forced him to mature as a man and a guy that has had so much success early, and to be optioned down to the Minor Leagues and telling him that right now what you’re doing is not good enough, I think it was a wake-up call for him and he responded admirably.”

During his time with Oklahoma City, Pederson worked to improve his swing and mechanics at the plate. He’d been mired in a 2-for-41 slump that spanned 15 games (12 starts).

“I think that you see now he’s more set in his legs, and that’s something that the hitting guys made that adjustment about a month and a half ago,” Roberts explained.

“And I think for him it’s just that focus on every pitch. And right now in the postseason you’re seeing him stay in the strike zone. I think that we’ve all seen him during the regular season, when he’s going well, he expands and gets out of the strike zone.”

Pederson was not activated until the National Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs. Though, he was among the handful of players on the Dodgers’ taxi squad during the Division Series.

Pederson is a combined 5-for-16 with three doubles, two home runs and four RBI in nine postseason games (four starts). He’s tallied one hit in each of his four World Series games.

“These are the best at-bats I’ve seen him over a certain period of time in two years,” Roberts said. “It’s a credit to his focus and obviously that mechanical change.”