Will Dodgers’ hitters be overmatched in series with Nats?

BOSTON, MA - JULY 14: Cody Bellinger #35 of the Los Angeles Dodgers reacts after striking out in the tenth inning against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on July 14, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - JULY 14: Cody Bellinger #35 of the Los Angeles Dodgers reacts after striking out in the tenth inning against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on July 14, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images) /
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MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA – SEPTEMBER 12: Patrick Corbin #46 of the Washington Nationals delivers a pitch against the Minnesota Twins during the first inning of the interleague game at Target Field on September 12, 2019 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /

The Top of the Rotation 

Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg both pitched in the Wild Card game win over the Brewers. That is cause for celebration, for a moment at least, but only until you look at the team’s third starter.

Patrick Corbin. A nasty lefty at the tip-top of his career arc in his first really meaningful playoff outing. Couldn’t be much worse, really.

As I’ve written about before, Corbin is a certified Dodger killer. He’s also a left-handed pitcher. Both of those should make seasoned Dodgers fans shudder.

Obviously, the lineup does not go completely dark when facing lefties. The team still hits over .200 against them, as any playoff team would be expected to, and they still can put up runs. It’s more of an inconvenience, especially because of how it exposes what some may call a strength and what others prefer not to discuss: platoon-based depth.

The Dodgers can platoon in the infield and the outfield, up the middle and at corner slots, with efficiency and ability that would boggle the minds of many other teams, even those with similarly ridiculous budgets.

And yet it is still a platoon offense. That’s not what previous World Series champions have relied upon, they’ve instead relied upon pure hitters like Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, Alex Bregman, J.D. Martinez, and Mookie Betts.

The Dodgers don’t really have a hitter who can match up to any of those. Even for those of you quick to mention Bellinger, he’s a lefty. Yes, he has hit .280 against lefties in 2019, with 18 homers as well. But that is an all-encompassing definition of Bellinger that should not be applied in this context.

Since August 1, Bellinger has just seven home runs and a .214 average against lefties. And maybe even more importantly, we don’t know how he’ll respond to the pressure of the playoffs. He’s a career .172 playoff hitter, and he actually was worse in 2018 than in 2017. He, along with Pollock, Freese, and the rest of the platoon gang will need to beat Corbin in order to give Walker Buehler momentum and in order to set up the rest of the series, and they may simply be too overmatched to do so.