Dodgers: Kiké Hernandez Becomes Even More Valuable With Pollock Out

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 16: Enrique Hernandez #14 of the Los Angeles Dodgers celebrates his run during a 6-1 win over the Cincinnati Reds at Dodger Stadium on April 16, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 16: Enrique Hernandez #14 of the Los Angeles Dodgers celebrates his run during a 6-1 win over the Cincinnati Reds at Dodger Stadium on April 16, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /
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The Dodgers lost one of the right-handed bats they were counting on in A.J. Pollock.  Luckily for them, Kiké Hernandez remains one of the best lefty mashers in baseball.

One of the Dodgers’ main goals for the 2019 season was to become a better hitting team against left-handed pitching.  In the World Series, the Red Sox rotation was led by two southpaw starters in Chris Sale and David Price, and both navigated through the Dodger lineup with ease.  This season the Dodgers plan to hit those upper tier lefties better than years past.

This lead to the trade of Yasiel Puig, who outside of a few big moments. never hit left-handed pitching.  He worked more like a left-handed bat in the Dodger lineup which is why they sent him to the Reds and brought in A.J. Pollock on a five-year deal.  With Pollock now out, the one area where the lineup becomes more vulnerable is against lefties.

That is why the Padres conveniently chose to switch to a six-man rotation on Thursday, lining up three left-handed starters against the Dodgers including Eric Lauer who looks like vintage Randy Johnson in most of his starts against LA.  The one player who the Dodgers need to step up now, more than ever, is the prolific lefty masher, Kiké Hernandez.

While Kiké has transformed into a more complete hitter in recent season, being able to hold his own against right-handed pitching, the one constant with him has been his ability to hit lefties better than some of MLB’s best hitters.  This season he has a .632 slugging percentage against southpaws, and 1.088 OPS.  Those numbers put him near the top of MLB with elite sluggers like Javier Baez and J.D. Martinez.

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Loaded with plenty of left-handed bats, Pollock and Hernandez were supposed to lead the charge against lefties along with Justin Turner.  Pollock, in particular, could be depended on to hit leadoff or in the middle of the lineup against left-handed starters.  He also has a track record of hitting some of the best lefty starters in baseball, which is one of the primary reasons he was appealing in free agency.

Justin Turner has gotten off to an odd start in the power department which means Kiké is one of the few lefty mashers in the Dodger lineup right now.  Whether he hits leadoff or in the middle of the order against lefties, he now becomes one of the most important players on the Dodger roster. Throw in his versatility and he is easily one of the most important players on the team right now.

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While there is no timetable for his return, Pollock is supposed to return at some point this season.  While Dave Roberts has given no timetable, the usual recovery time for “hardware” removal ranges from one to three months.  Given that Pollock’s elbow was deemed to be fully healed, it should just be a matter of recovering from the procedure itself.  Until he returns, Kiké becomes one of the most important players on the roster.