The Dodgers tossed a twist into their lineup Friday night against the Padres. Yasiel Puig was in it, playing right field and batting sixth, even though San Diego was starting left-hander Eric Lauer on the mound.
Puig has been the hottest hitter in baseball over the past week. His go-ahead pinch-hit three-run home run Wednesday was his sixth home run in six days. His OPS has jumped 69 points in that span. He has fueled the Dodgers as they make a run to another National League West title.
But his drastic reverse splits have usually kept him out of the lineup opposite lefty starters. Entering Friday, Puig had a .216 batting average and.665 OPS against left-handers while batting .304 with a .935 OPS against righties.
Manager Dave Roberts, however, explained Puig has looked better against left-handers recently, a stretch that included a home run off St. Louis Cardinals left-hander Tyler Webb a week earlier.
“I’ve seen better at-bats against the lefty,” Roberts said, “so it’s just kind of earning those extra opportunities.”
In addition, Lauer isn’t a typical left-hander; right-handed hitters have had more success against him, posting an .847 OPS while lefties had an .803 OPS.
However, Puig went 0 for 2 against Lauer. He did have an RBI single against right-hander Craig Stammen in the eighth.
The Dodgers originally scheduled Rich Hill to start on the mound Friday, but decided to push him back to Saturday and start Ross Stripling.
Stripling didn’t make it out of the fourth inning and took the loss, allowing two runs on three hits.
Roberts explained the rationale behind the move as giving the 38-year-old Hill additional rest and keeping Stripling on regular rest. He added there “was a little matchup component” to the decision. Asked if the component was their upcoming series against the Arizona Diamondbacks next week or a potential playoff series the following week, Roberts said “probably Arizona.”
“The most important thing is Rich has pitched a lot this year,” Roberts said. “And Ross coming back, getting him in a rhythm of the every fifth day thing and kind of put it all together and you think about that.”
Hill has logged 118 2/3 innings this season, and has allowed four runs in each of his previous three starts.
King introduced as minority owner, Jarrin honored
The Dodgers introduced tennis icon Billie Jean King and her life partner Ilana Kloss as minority owners Friday at Dodger Stadium alongside chairman Mark Walter and team president Stan Kasten.
“We really hope that we can make a difference, and make a difference that’s meaningful,” King, a Long Beach native, said. “And impactful.”
A few hours later, Jaime Jarrin, the Spanish-language voice of the Dodgers for 60 years, was inducted into the club’s ring of honor in a pregame ceremony attended by Vin Scully. The Dodgers announced Jarrin agreed to a two-year contract extension earlier in the week.