Advertisement

Dodgers mailbag: Should Joc Pederson start against left-handed pitchers?

Share

After a successful week at home in which the team won series over the Diamondbacks and the Giants, the Dodgers are 8-5. That puts them on pace for a 99-win season. That is a lot of victories. The Dodgers haven’t won that many games in a year since 1974.

But of course, there is much to discuss. Let’s get to it. All these questions were submitted via Twitter. If you have one you’d like answered next week, send a message to me @McCulloughTimes.

Advertisement

There were more than a few questions in this vein during the week. The Dodgers saw left-handed pitchers Tuesday (Patrick Corbin), Thursday (Robbie Ray) and Friday (Madison Bumgarner). Joc Pederson rode the bench in each game. Then he hit a massive, game-deciding home run off San Francisco right-hander Jeff Samardzija in Sunday’s series finale.

Pederson swings left-handed. He posted a .691 on-base plus slugging percentage against left-handers in 2015. He hit six home runs against them, compared to 20 off right-handers. At various points in the minor leagues, he showed a sizable platoon split.

There are two schools of thought here.

School 1: The Dodgers are costing Pederson a chance at development. In his breakout 2014 season with triple-A Albuquerque, his .995 OPS against left-handers was higher than his OPS against right-handers (.980). How, the rhetorical question goes, will he learn to hit big-league left-handers if he is never given the chance?

School 2: The Dodgers are maximizing Pederson’s greatest skill – the ability to hit home runs against right-handed pitchers – while avoiding his over-exposure. The team is also presenting an opportunity to rookie Trayce Thompson, who has shown a proclivity for hitting left-handers in his past.

I tend to side with the second school. The entire point of this enterprise is to win games, not polish one certain player’s scouting profile.

But first, it is important to note how the injuries to Carl Crawford and Scott Van Slyke have affected the situation. With either player in the fold, the Dodgers would likely use one of the two in left field against left-handers, and Enrique Hernandez would start in center field.

It is hard to imagine fans carping about Hernandez starting over Pederson against left-handers. There is little argument there, especially after this week.

But now you have a more philosophical discussion: Should the Dodgers care about player development or the immediate future of the 2016 team? It’s a question the front office has tried to thread the needle between since Andrew Friedman took over. In this regard, the organization has chosen wins over Pederson’s progression.

Because right now, in April 2016, Thompson provides better at-bats against left-handed pitchers than Pederson does. Thus, the better chance of winning those games. It’s a difficult dance, but it seems to be working thus far.

At the start of the week, after Chris Hatcher’s blowup against Arizona, the Dodgers bullpen was a mess. And now the group ended the week on a streak of 14 consecutive innings without allowing a run. Baseball is a fickle sport.

Despite the recent run of success, rival evaluators still believe the Dodgers relief corps could use upgrades as the season continues. Every team is like this. In the most likely scenario, if the Dodgers could find Joe Sixth/Seventh Inning Guy with relative ease. At the deadline last year, relievers like Joakim Soria, Steve Cishek, Jonathan Broxton, Kevin Jepsen, Tommy Hunter and Marc Rzepcynski were all traded.

But say Andrew Friedman and his cohorts sought a more substantial upgrade. Who might be available?

Three names come to mind: Cleveland closer Cody Allen, Baltimore closer Zach Britton and White Sox closer David Robertson. All three would require a sizable package in return. A trade like this often causes pain for both sides – you give up something you do not want to part with – which makes the prospects of such a deal less likely. Plus, all three of these teams might actually be in contention come July (though we have our doubts about the sustainability of all three).

Robertson, 31, is the most accomplished, and the most expensive. The White Sox still owe him $25 million in 2017 and 2018. Britton, 28, is in his second year of arbitration eligibility as a Super Two player. The Orioles control him through 2018. Allen, 27, also qualified for arbitration this season, and comes with two more years of control.

Again, targeting players like this may not fit within Friedman’s modus operandi. But he could complete two goals with one transaction: Kenley Jansen can become a free agent after this season. If the Dodgers cannot re-sign him, they would then have an in-house option with better credentials than Chris Hatcher or Pedro Baez.

Most likely, though? Get ready for Joe Sixth/Seventh Inning Guy. Dude has great peripherals.

Chris Sale is owed $38 million from 2017 to 2019. He won’t turn 30 until 2019. He is one of the best pitchers on the Earth. It would take an astounding amount of talent to acquire him.

I can think of two conceivable options.

Route 1: Offer a package of Julio Urias, Austin Barnes, Cody Bellinger, Grant Holmes and Starling Heredia.

Route 2: Wait for four years and try to sign him in free agency to play for manager Adam LaRoche and bench coach Drake LaRoche.

1. Mike Bolsinger (oblique strain) still hasn’t appeared in a game down in extended spring training.

2. Hyun-Jin Ryu (shoulder surgery) tweaked his groin, so his endless spring will continue.

3. Brandon McCarthy (Tommy John surgery) isn’t expected back until July.

So, honestly, who knows? It depends on who is not performing when any one of these fellows is ready to return. I doubt Bolsinger receives a spot in the rotation, barring a collapse by Alex Wood or Ross Stripling. Ryu deserves to start, but his body has refused to cooperate.

Me personally? I would love for the Dodgers to sign Tim Lincecum. That would be a great story. It would be a low-risk investment for the team, if it only required a minor-league contract offer, but one imagines Lincecum seeks a sizable amount of incentives built into any contract – if he is even willing to take a minor-league deal.

Dan Wetzel, the superlative columnist at Yahoo Sports, has said his job is writing about the people you see on television by writing about the things you can’t see on television. I think that still applies even in this unique situation. Highlights are ubiquitous, even in a world where plenty of Angelenos can’t see the actual games. So I’m trying to provide insight and information to complement the visual.

I don’t know. I’m not very good at explaining this stuff. I just try to write interesting stories, hopefully in a cinematic fashion that isn’t too purple, to provide sweep and context on each given day.

Some people say Kansas City is a provincial place. I say, “No way!”

This is how you make the mailbag, folks. The only problem is I cannot find a suitable answer. Most albums that start poorly tend to just be bad albums. The records I enjoy most from 2005 – “Alligator,” “Late Registration,” “Z,” “The Sunset Tree” – rip from start to finish.

1. Pinegrove – “Cardinal.” One of my best friends from college is a guy named Jeff who does soundtrack work in New York. Once or twice a year, he sends me an email about a band I will like. He got me hooked on Turnover in 2015, and he provided advance warning on Pinegrove in February. Favorite track: “Old Friends.”

2. Teen Suicide – “It’s The Big Joyous Celebration, Let’s Stir The Honeypot.” I was not too familiar with Sam Ray’s work until I read Andrew Unterberger’s profile of him in Spin. Interesting cat. I don’t think the “Let’s just throw all this disorganized stuff in one place so critics will say it’s like ‘Alien Lanes’ and ‘The Headphone Masterpiece’ or whatever!!!!’ strategy is sustainable over the course of a career, but it certainly does make for some enjoyable songs. I’m curious to see what Ray does next. Favorite track: “The Stomach of The Earth.”

3. Basement – “Promise Everything.” I want to like Basement more than I do. The peaks are fantastic – “Covet,” “Comfort,” “Summer’s Colour,” “Crickets Throw Their Voice” – but the records feature too much monochromatic filler. Favorite track: “Aquasun.”

I hope it’s “The Northern” by Alexisonfire.

I doubt it. He’s too small for Vince McMahon – standing in the ring with Chris Jericho, he looks dwarfed. His accent is too Southern for Vince McMahon – the man with the tortured relationship with Jim Ross. Considering he just did the J-O-B in his first Wrestlemania, it’s hard to see him supplanting Roman Reigns in McMahon’s internal power rankings.

But if Styles stays healthy, he’ll make a ton of money and entertain a whole new group of fans for a good while. He is a joy to watch. His match with Reigns at Payback should be enjoyable. Reigns has pulled out good matches before, like the one with Daniel Bryan back in 2015 before Wrestlemania 30. Styles won’t go over, but he’ll continue to get over.

Andy.mccullough@latimes.com

Twitter: @McCulloughTimes


Advertisement