The Los Angeles Dodgers are opening an important four-game series against the New York Mets tonight. It’s the first time the two clubs will face each other since the Mets defeated Don Mattingly‘s Dodgers in last year’s NLCS.
They may be new-manager Dave Roberts‘ Dodgers now, but his first lineup against the Mets is taking a page out of Mattingly’s playbook. Roberts is starting almost all right handers against LH Steven Matz. Adrian Gonzalez will get the start and be the lone lefty bat tonight. Roberts is sitting Joc Pederson, Chase Utley and Corey Seager.
I get the argument that Pederson, like teammate Andre Ethier, supposedly cannot hit against lefties. Pederson has been mostly sitting against southpaws since the second half of last season. I counter that he can’t hit ’em if he never faces ’em. Like Ethier, Pederson will surprise you when you give him the opportunity to show what he can do.
When the Dodgers began their last roadtrip against the Rays, Pederson got the OK to start against LH Matt Moore.
I get it. The stats boys love to play the lefty-righty matchups, and there’s a lot to be said for the strategy. However, just like Adrian Gonzalez, Joc Pederson’s bat is heating up, and he’s doing it with a home run swing.
As a matter of fact, Gonzo, who we looked to for home run firepower last season, has only three homers up to this point. That’s only half as many as the team’s home run leader…Guess who? Mr. Joc Perderson, who has six. Nobody else on the team is even close.
There are bats in the lineup with home run power – Gonzo, Kike, Puig, Turner, but they’re hitting them less often than last year, and far less often than Pederson this year.
Joc is batting .275, which places him squarely in the upper third of the Dodgers bats, but his .563 SLG and .941 OPS far exceed anybody else in the Dodgers lineup. The guy is getting on base and hitting for power at a rate that should not be stifled. When he’s out of the lineup, those numbers that the stat-heads love to live by, drop well down.
Here’s a look at what Joc did to a Cy Young Award winner.
Here’s a look at what he did yesterday.
Roberts is probably thinking he can go to Pederson later in the game as a pinch hitter against a right hander, or as a defensive replacement if necessary. That’s one way to do it, but this team needs runs – lots of runs – especially at home. Sitting one of the hottest and biggest bats in the lineup isn’t my idea of the best way to get them.