Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig gets rare start against left-hander
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 on-base-plus-slugging percentage 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 left-handed starters. Entering Friday, Puig had a .216 batting average and.665 OPS against left-handers while batting .304 with a .935 OPS against right-handers.
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.
The Dodgers originally scheduled Rich Hill to start Friday but decided to push him back to Saturday and start Ross Stripling on Friday. Roberts explained the rationale behind the move as giving the 38-year-old 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 given up four runs in each of his previous three starts.
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“We really hope that we can make a difference, and make a difference that’s meaningful,” King, a Long Beach native, said. “And impactful.”
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