The Dodgers are struggling against left-handed pitching. Their regular lineup is left-handed heavy. They might need to make a trade before tomorrow’s waiver trade deadline.
Instead of upgrading before the non-waiver deadline, the Dodgers chose to stick with internal under-performers.
“The Dodgers could probably have bested the Orioles’ offer for Steve Pearce at the trade deadline, but with two of the best right-handed hitters in baseball against LHP in 2014 (Van Slyke, 193 wRC+) and 2015 (Hernandez), they have opted to hope the players who are supposed to hit lefties rebound rather than bringing in a player who could be viewed as redundant if the others perform as expected. Regardless of if the Dodgers acquired Pearce or not, Hernandez and Van Slyke have to start doing the things they’re capable of doing anyway for this team to perform better against lefties. Given their past performance, it’s not unreasonable to expect improvement, but those guys getting there sooner rather than later would be awfully nice to calm everybody’s worries.
If not, the Dodgers might be able to bring in someone this month, ala Justin Ruggiano last year, but with an already full roster and the recent addition of Rob Segedin (who, honestly, should just be used against left-handed pitching), that doesn’t look too likely.”
At the time, it made sense, especially since both were seemingly healthy and the expectation was they’d get back to being effective against left-handed pitching. In hindsight, that hasn’t worked out. Scott Van Slyke has since been placed on the 60-day disabled list and is having wrist surgery, while Enrique Hernandez‘s production against lefties continues to slip. He had a 120 wRC+ when I wrote about the above article. Now, it’s 98. After being incredible against them last season, he’s now officially below-average against southpaws.
Pearce would have been the perfect addition, but that opportunity has passed. Rob Segedin has been a nice surprise so far, but he’s really a corner infielder who has played more in the outfield than I’m sure anyone is comfortable with. So, perhaps a right-handed hitting outfielder is in the cards in the next day or two.
Justin Ruggiano, an all-time Dodger great, would make sense. Yes, the Mets are just 2 1/2 games out of the second wild card spot, but to get to that spot would require them leapfrogging the Cardinals, Pirates and Marlins. Despite a strong rotation, they might not be able to hit enough to make that happen.
Another guy who makes some sense is Ryan Raburn. The Rockies’ outfielder (who has also dabbled at first- and second base) doesn’t have impressive numbers this season (.232/.323/.414) on the whole, but his numbers against lefties are a lot better (.235/.368/.471, 106 wRC+). And for his career, he has a .262/.341/.486 triple slash and 120 wRC+ against lefties. The Rockies are not contending and he has fallen out of favor (for good reason) a bit with the emergence of David Dahl. I’m sure he has cleared waivers. Players like him usually do.
One final player — and this was actually asked of me on Twitter — is Drew Stubbs. The athletic outfielder recently rejected an assignment from the Rangers and would just cost the prorated salary for the remainder of the season. This acquisition might be the most realistic. He only has 42 plate appearances against lefties this season and has a .250/.333/.333 triple slash and an 81 wRC+. But for his career, he’s much better against them: .275/.349/.449, 114 wRC+.
Since these guys are all free agents after the season, the cost to acquire them should be minimal. They’d be coming in for — if the Dodgers are lucky — a couple months of work. But, the 40-man roster crunch is an issue here.
Regardless, it’s tough seeing such a left-handed heavy lineup and bench, since that leads to scenarios in which Josh Reddick is forced to pinch-hit against a left-handed pitcher. He isn’t historically good against them and considering his struggles with the Dodgers so far, it’s almost an unfair situation for him to be in. Adding one of these outfielders (two of which can play center field in Ruggiano and Stubbs, since the Dodgers are hellbent on having Joc Pederson be the most non-platoon platoon player ever) might be beneficial for the team going forward.