By focusing on improving the depth throughout their roster the Los Angeles Dodgers were in position to platoon at several positions. That primarily affected Joc Pederson, who seemingly found it impossible to start in center field when the Dodgers faced a left-handed pitcher.
The practice was a carry over from 2015 when former Dodgers manager Don Mattingly would sit Pederson, then in his rookie season, against southpaws. Despite starting Pederson or Trayce Thompson in April based on pitching matchups, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts argued against the arrangement being a platoon.
The Dodgers ranked last in the Majors this season with a .213 batting average, .622 on-base plus slugging percentage, .275 wOBA and 72 wRC+ against left-handers.
With Thompson and Scott Van Slyke lost to injury and Kiké Hernandez failing to replicate his 2015 success, they were handcuffed in some regard. Pederson began to garner some starts against same-side pitching down the stretch of the season.
He hit just .125/.250/.219 with three doubles, one home run, 10 RBI, 11 walks and 22 strikeouts 77 plate appearances over 54 games. Pederson resorted to wearing a helmet with a face guard to encourage him in staying on pitches to the inside corner.
Despite the lack of overall success, Roberts stuck with Pederson more times than not against a lefty during the postseason. “Time will tell, but his at-bats in the postseason against left-handed pitching was pretty good,” Roberts said this week.
“Even going through September, taking a walk, and just competing against left-handed pitching, gave us confidence to start him throughout the postseason. He’ll get opportunities to get more at-bats.”
The 24-year-old started all 11 of the Dodgers’ playoff games across the National League Division Series and NL Championship Series. He batted .250/.325/.389 with two doubles, one home run, four RBI, three walks and 14 strikeouts in 40 plate appearances.
Below is a breakdown of Pederson’s plate appearances when he faced a left-handed pitcher this postseason:
- NLDS Game 1: Struck out against Sammy Solis
- NLDS Game 2: Pinch-hit for by Yasiel Puig when Marc Rzepczynski entered
- NLDS Game 3: Struck out and singled off Gio Gonzalez; struck out against Oliver Perez
- NLDS Game 4: Drew a walk off Perez
- NLCS Game 1: Struck out and bunted out to third base while facing Jon Lester; struck out by Mike Montgomery
- NLCS Game 2: Drew a walk off Aroldis Chapman
- NLCS Game 3: Popped-out against Travis Wood; doubled off Montgomery
- NLCS Game 4: Struck out by Montgomery
- NLCS Game 5: Out on bunt attempt, groundout and single (all against Lester); reached on fielder’s choice against Chapman
Over parts of three seasons with the Dodgers, Pederson is batting .178/.275/.324 with six doubles, seven home runs, 24 RBI, 25 walks and 73 strikeouts in 213 plate appearances against left-handers.