Dodgers: A.J. Pollock Still Important to the Dodgers’ Title Hopes

After dealing with another unfortunate ailment, A.J. Pollock is set to the return to the Dodgers on Friday.  A.J. is still a key piece for the Dodgers.

A.J. Pollock was one of the Dodgers’ offseason prizes but has had his first season in Los Angeles derailed by an elbow infection he picked up in Chicago.  A.J. last appeared in a game for the Dodgers on April 28th, but after homering in his final rehab at-bat Tuesday, he will rejoin the team in Boston and likely play in at least a few games this weekend.

Pollock will be tested right away as the Dodgers will face the defending World Series champs in a regular season rematch and face three southpaw starters.  Both Chris Sale and David Price are scheduled to face the Dodgers this weekend, which are the two starters that helped lead the Red Sox past the Dodgers in last year’s fall classic.

While Alex Verdugo has emerged to prove he is worth all the prospect hype he received, A.J. Pollock is still an important player to the Dodgers’ championship hopes.  Part of the reason he was brought in was due to the fact he can face right and left-handed pitching without a significant drop in production against one type of pitcher.

Even in his small sample size of 103 at-bats this season, Pollock has hit lefties well posting a slash line of .333/.394/.433.  While A.J. has struggled against right-handers this season with an average below .200, he has had less than eighty plate appearances against righties.  As he gets back into the rhythm of playing every day, Pollock should see his offensive numbers start to rise.

To begin the season, Pollock had a quick start recording one home run and six RBI’s through the first four games of the season.  He then hit a slump and was in the midst of it until he scraped his elbow and picked up his elbow infection against the Cubs.  One of the benefits Pollock will restore is a very good outfield defense of Bellinger, Pollock, and Verdugo or Joc Pederson across the outfield.

The Dodgers have struggled lately against left-handed pitching but Pollock will help stack the lineup with right-handed bats.  Chris Taylor has returned to form and posted an OPS over .900 against lefties this season.  Add in that Enrique Hernandez has posted a respectable .758 OPS against southpaws and the Dodgers could start Pollock, Taylor, and Hernandez at two outfield spots and second base to help boost the offense against lefties.

Despite missing a good chunk of the regular season, Pollock will have plenty of time to get back into gear for another World Series run.  He will provide solid defense, steady at-bats, and has a track record of success against pitchers the Dodgers could face in the postseason.  A few of those pitchers he has had success against are Jon Lester, Jose Quintana, and Jhoulys Chacin who are all pitchers the Dodgers could face this October.

A.J. has also had great success against arch nemesis Madison Bumgarner to the tune of three home runs and a slugging percentage over .500.  There is a good chance MadBum is moved prior to the trade deadline and the Braves and Brewers are possible suitors for his services.

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Should one of them acquire Bum, Pollock will be glad to face him in a playoff series.  A.J. Pollock’s time in LA may have gotten off to a slow start, but he remains a big piece of the Dodgers’ championship puzzle.