Dodgers Can’t Let Alex Verdugo Get Left Out Against Lefties

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CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - APRIL 24: Alex Verdugo #27 of the Los Angeles Dodgers rounds the bases following his three run home run during the eighth inning of a game against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on April 24, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - APRIL 24: Alex Verdugo #27 of the Los Angeles Dodgers rounds the bases following his three run home run during the eighth inning of a game against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on April 24, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images) /
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With the Dodgers set to face left-handed starts in each of the next four games, the club needs to make sure that Alex Verdugo gets his chance against lefties.

The Dodgers feature a lineup that is full of potent left-handed hitters such as Cody Bellinger, Joc Pederson, and Max Muncy.  Whenever the Dodgers face a southpaw starter, they tend to platoon most of the time and Muncy and Pederson get benched.  The same can be said for Alex Verdugo who has not quite gotten his “every day” chance at hitting left-handed pitching in the majors.

With A.J. Pollock now out for what figures to be several months, the Dodgers don’t really have an everyday centerfielder.  Verdugo figures to start against right-handed starters and against lefties the Dodgers could play Kiké Hernandez in centerfield with Max Muncy starting at second base just as they did on Tuesday night.  Rather than benching Verdugo against southpaws, the Dodgers need to see what he can do against them.

In the minor leagues, Verdugo has hit lefties and he has hit them very well for most of his minor league career. In 2018, he hit .396 against lefties with an OPS of .984.  In 2017, he posted an OPS of .815 against southpaws, and in 2016, he OPS’ed .691.  In the early parts of this season, Dugie has mashed lefties posting an OPS of 1.508 which is nearly double his OPS against right-handed pitching.

While that is a very small sample size of eleven at-bats, all four of Verdugo’s hits against lefties have been for extra bases. Two triples, a double, and a home run.  Given his strong minor league track record against southpaw pitching, he deserves to be given a shot at starting against them.  With Pollock out, there is no better time than now for Alex to get that opportunity.

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Besides his proven ability to mash lefties, the other area the Dodgers gained a boost in by signing A.J. Pollock was on defense.  With him now sidelined for the foreseeable future, the best defensive centerfielder outside of Cody Bellinger is Alex Verdugo.  With Bellinger setting the baseball world on fire with his prolific start, the team is not going to ask him to man centerfield and possibly burn him out.

This is where Dugie comes in and gives the Dodgers another above average centerfield option.  Alex has the speed, range, and arm to be an asset in center so that the Dodgers don’t see a big drop off in defense up the middle.  The Dodgers’ best centerfield option after Verdugo would be Kiké Hernandez, but the Dodgers need him at second base.

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Last night, Verdugo started against Bumgarner so it appears he will get his chance.  The Dodgers are going to face left-handed starters in all three games of their series with the Padres, and in the first game of the series against the Braves.  That is four straight games against southpaws and the Dodgers can’t let a talent like Verdugo rot on the bench, especially with Chris Taylor struggling to begin the season.

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