When a team can’t put together a rally -- let alone actually score a run -- it does tend to become a tad fraught. After averaging 5.28 runs in their first 35 games, the Dodgers have averaged just 3.16 in the last 32 games.
So on Friday, Mattingly welcomes the Giants to L.A. with his latest lineup incarnation:
"Just moving pieces," Mattingly said.
The significant change is swapping Puig and Pederson. Then wanting to break up the left-handed hitting Pederson and Gonzalez, Mattingly moved Turner into the third spot instead of Kendrick.
"We're just trying to get something that sparks us a little bit," Mattingly said. "I really don’t think any of this is huge. But I think there are times when just a little bit of a different look gives you a little different perspective."
Kendrick has started 60 previous games this season, all in the third and cleanup spots. This is Pederson’s first career start in the second hole. Since Pederson ended his record run of five home runs in as many games on June 3, he’s hit .171 (seven for 41) with one extra base hit and one RBI, while walking 11 times and striking out striking out 15 times.
Mattingly said he doesn’t see anything different in Pederson’s approach at the plate.
"Not really," he said. "His attitude has stayed good, his demeanor hasn’t changed any. He’s still taking his walks, still striking out, still looking like he’s looked all year long. I don’t think anything’s changed. I mean he had a streak like this earlier in the year where his average started to dwindle, and then he catches fire and he gets going, so I don’t know."
Pederson is currently batting .249, but has .388 on-base and .529 slugging percentages.
It’s the throw-enough-against-the-wall-and-hope-something-sticks approach to lineups. When you can’t score, it can’t hurt to try. Mattingly said he wasn’t looking for any particular result from swapping Pederson and Puig.
"I don’t know if it's necessarily an upside, other than it's just a different look," he said.
The Dodgers’ frantic search for offense is only heightened by opening a three-game series against the rival Giants on Friday. The Giants shut out the Dodgers the last three games they played and have not allowed the Dodgers to score in their last 31 innings.
"I'm not downplaying who they are, but this is really more for us," Mattingly said. "We concern ourselves with how we’re playing, how we’re preparing, how we’re getting ready."
And, of course, how they are absolutely not hitting.
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