Entering Tuesday’s series opener against the Chicago Cubs, there are just three players in the National League who have already reached double-digit home runs: Los Angeles Dodgers teammates Cody Bellinger and Joc Pederson, and Milwaukee Brewers right fielder Christian Yelich.
On the surface, that Bellinger, Pederson and Yelich have reached the benchmark before the calendar turns to May isn’t much of a surprise. However, only Bellinger and Yelich have received an opportunity to play every day thus far in the 2019 season.
Like in years past, Pederson finds himself as part of a platoon. Whereas it previously came in center field, he now shares time with Chris Taylor in left field.
The Dodgers went platoon-heavy during the second half of the 2018 season, and true to manager Dave Roberts’ declaration, have scaled back on the strategy this year.
Although Pederson still finds himself sitting against left-handed pitching, he’s not allowing that to negatively impact him and simply views it as biding time until proving his belief he can hit southpaws, per Bill Plunkett of the Southern California News Group:
“What am I going to do, (complain) and be a bad teammate? What good would that do?” Pederson says. “That’s just part of the game right now. It is what it is. Those are things that I can’t control and I can’t do anything about it.
“I mean, I think I had one start against a lefty last year. That time will come when I get to start against lefties – obviously not here, not now. I can’t worry about what is to come. I know I can hit them. I haven’t really faced them in like three years so I’m not really worried about it.”
In November 2015, Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman voiced confidence in Pederson’s ability to succeed against lefties. Roberts said the young outfielder would receive an increase in such opportunities during the 2017 season.
Despite those assertions, Pederson’s at-bats against left-handers have been few and far between during his tenure with the Dodgers. He made a career-high 23 starts against a lefty in 2015, only nine the following year, 10 in 2017, and two last season.
Pederson has yet to have his name written in the lineup this season when the Dodgers have faced a lefty starter. Even when it meant sitting four consecutive games and going one week between starts.
Over 318 career plate appearances against left-handed pitching, Pederson has hit a feeble .185/.299/.343 with 13 doubles, 10 home runs and 29 RBI.