Entering the 2017 season, the Dodgers’ big elephant in the room was the inability to hit left-handed pitching. The only thing more annoying than hearing the national sports media loathe over the Cubs was hearing them talk about this problem.
Despite an 8-8 overall record in games started by a left-handed starting pitcher, the Dodgers have begun to right the ship lately. In their last eight games versus lefty pitchers, Los Angeles is 6-2. Depending on how you want to look at it, you can also say LA has won five of their last six games against a southpaw starter, including a four-game winning streak before dropping a game against Ty Blach and the San Francisco Giants.
Looking at the offensive stats, as a team, the Dodgers rank second in Major League Baseball in runs scored and runs batted in against left-handed pitchers. They also rank fourth in hits despite being middle-of-the-pack in home runs, on-base percentage, and OPS.
One player who has helped turn things around is Justin Turner. Despite hitting only .209 against lefties in 2016, Turner is hitting .333 against southpaws in 2017. That’s something the LA was hoping would change this season since it’s rare a right-handed hitter is worse against lefties.
Another boost provided against left-handers by Chris Taylor and off-season acquisition Logan Forsythe. It really hasn’t mattered which hand a pitcher throws with to Taylor, as Chris Taylor has been mashing them all, he currently leads the team with a .440 average off left-handed pitching and an OPS over 1.200. Forsythe in his limited sample size is batting .42 and like Taylor has an on-base percentage over .500.
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A few hitters who have disappointed against left-handers are Yasmani Grandal and Yasiel Puig. Despite being a switch hitter Grandal is only hitting .152 and as a result most of his days off lately have been games started by a left-hander. Puig is also hitting well below .200 off left-handers and oddly enough is having more success off right-handers.
Despite hitting an un-Seager like .241 against southpaws, Corey Seager leads the team with three home runs against them. Gonzalez has been respectable with a .250 average, and super rookie Cody Bellinger is batting over .300. Brett Eibner and Franklin Gutierrez have also made their mark with at least one home run each. With Gutierrez missing some time on the DL, the Dodgers were left hurting for production early in the season and was reflected by their 2-4 start against southpaws.
While teams seem to be lining up left-handers to pitch against Los Angeles, it has back fired and created multiple favorable matchups against division rival left-handers. The Dodgers have faced Clayton Richard, Tyler Anderson, Robbie Ray, and Kyle Freeman twice each and it’s not even June yet. Freeland is the only left-hander that Los Angeles has faced twice so far and not beaten.
Although some will still try to say the Dodgers still can’t left-handed pitching, that is not true anymore; the Dodgers are on the upward swing. While the season is still relatively young it will be interesting to see how they fair against left-handers the rest of the way. The front office’s choice to play matchups has started to pay off.