It was another rough outing for Chris Hatcher in the Dodger’s 2-0 shutout loss to the Giants at San Francisco in Tuesday night’s series opener. The right hander was called into the game in the bottom of the eighth inning in relief of Adam Liberatore. He allowed a long drive to left field off the bat of Brandon Belt which was dropped by Enrique Hernandez for a two-base error. He then got a grounder from Hunter Pence, but uncorked a wild pitch which allowed Belt to score from third. Brandon Crawford immediately followed with a single. That was just the second hit Hatcher has allowed to a left handed bat this season.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
The 30-year old right hander was acquired by the Dodgers from the Marlins on December 11 of last year in the Dee Gordon trade. So far Hatcher has had a disappointing start to his Dodger career. Hatcher is a converted catcher, the same as Kenley Jansen was. However he has little experience pitching in the majors. This is just his second full season on the mound.
With that being said, I’ve noticed an interesting split in his numbers. So far Hatcher is 0-3 in 17 games with a 5.14 ERA. He’s put up a solid strikeout to walk ratio. With 17 whiffs and just 4 walks, he’s posted an 11.8 strikeout per nine rate, and a 2.8 walk per nine rate. He doesn’t walk guys, and gets a lot of swings and misses. Of course it is hard to hit a 96 mph fastball.
That is all good of course, but with a lot of those types of pitchers he’s around the plate a lot, so he gets hit. I.E. he’s allowing too many base runners. People like to point out that he has a very good 1.92 FIP. That is great, but he’s given up as many hits (14) as innings pitched. That gives him a shockingly bad ERA+ of 69, and a hits per nine rate of 9.0.
Here’s where things get interesting. According to the numbers he’s getting left handers out at a historic rate, however right handers are crushing him. He’s held left handers to a .111 (2 for 18) batting average against, with a .259 OPS. Lefties have gotten just two singles against him with three walks and five whiffs. Although right handed bats are another story.
Call to the Pen
Right handed hitters are batting .353 (12 for 34) with an .876 OPS against him in 37 plate appearances. So the question I have to ask, is Hatcher being used incorrectly? Is Hatcher a reverse loogy? (lefty one out guy) Lefties are supposed to get left handed hitters out, and righties are supposed to get right handed hitters out.
The stat guys will probably point out that Hatcher’s BABIP against right handers is .545, and .382 overall. Yes those numbers are likely to get better as time goes on. Whether that is true or not doesn’t matter. The fact is he is simply not getting right handed hitters out.
There are a lot of goods to take away from Hatcher’s up and down start to the season. I am hopeful he can bounce back from his slow start. He has a 4.25-1 strikeout to walk ratio. He induces a lot of grounders, and gets a lot of swings and misses. He doesn’t allow home runs either. He has given up exactly zero this year.
Although the fact remains that he just gives up too many darn hits. And I don’t care how good his strikeout to walk ratios are, or how low his FIP is if he is putting too many guys on base. Not only that, but it seems Don Mattingly is incorrectly using him. I know it seems like he probably has had some poor batted ball luck.
Right now until he proves otherwise, Hatcher is a specialist. He should only be brought into face left handed bats. Chris Hatcher is a reverse loogy at the moment.