Making out a lineup card
Last night the Dodgers won 4 – 1 behind the excellent pitching of Yu Darvish, and timely hitting of Cody Bellinger, along with a spectacular play by Kiké Hernandez.
The interesting part for me though was the lineup the Dodgers used. With left handed Matt Moore going you knew the lineup would have Kiké, Barnes, and Forsythe.
Dave Roberts dropped Puig from 5th to 8th, moved/kept Forsythe at 5th and batted Barnes/Hernandez sixth and seventh respectively. The idea of the struggling Forsythe batting fifth while the red hot Puig was dropped to eighth was a little eye opening.
Several bloggers defended the move by showing off Logan’s left handed splits for the year and Puig’s. That seemed a tad disingenuous to me. Puig has the same great history as Forsythe of hitting left-hand pitching but started out slow against them this year. Slow might be an understatement.
Puig has been one of the Dodgers hottest hitters since the break, Forsythe one of the worst. If you bring in the splits by using the split tool from Fangraphs you can see that Forsythe is only hitting .208 against LHP in the second half with zero home runs, and four doubles in 66 plate appearances. His saving grace are his 13 walks. All of Logan’s damage against LHP came in the first half where he hit .386 with eight extra base hits. Add in the 12 walks in just 72 plate appearances you had a valuable player against LHP.
Puig, on the other hand, hit .164 in the first half against LHP as that was what was keeping him from becoming an elite hitter in 2017. Only 3 XBH, with two doubles and one home run. I had heard he was having a much better 2nd half against LHP but when you look at the hit tool you see some improvement but not enough to make my case that he shouldn’t be hitting 8th against LHP. Oh well, I got this far so why stop. Puig in the 2nd half is only hitting .194. Hmm. How about August? Not so good. We actually have to cherry pick his Sept numbers to get any type of argument in his favor. In Sept, Puig is hitting .286 with three walks in a tiny sample size of 17 plate appearances. All the numbers quoted are against left-hand pitching.
So my conclusion is that even with Puig appearing to be hot, Dave Roberts made the right decision last night in batting Forsythe 5th. I would have batted Puig sixth not eighth and while Forsythe/Barnes/Hernandez combined to go 1 for 9, Barnes did garner two walks, and Logan one so the trio got on base four times in twelve plate appearances. Forsythe hit a key single in the 1st inning to plate Cody Bellinger who had tripled. His other three at-bats were typical Logan this year, two strikeouts and one walk.
I think as this month progresses and if Puig continues to improve against left-hand pitching you want him getting as many at-bats as possible instead of what he would get from the eight spot. Maybe Dave Roberts didn’t like the idea of Bellinger getting three intentional walks on Tuesday night with Puig hitting behind him. I kind of think that since the Dodgers didn’t trade for JD Martinez and Adrian Gonzalez looking done they have no real choice but to live and die with Puig in the five spot. It is not ideal but that is what you have when Joc/Granderson/Adrian aren’t options, and Grandal has currently hit a wall.
Hernandez made a spectacular play from left field last charging a medium pop fly and taking it on the dead run and nailing the runner at first who was in no man’s land because of the spot of the fly ball. It was a tough throw on the run, and he did it perfectly. If only Hernandez was still hitting. Dave Roberts mentioned yesterday that Hernandez would play every day against LHP for the rest of the year and presumably in the postseason. It is not ideal but at least he’s the best defensive left fielder the Dodgers have and maybe he can get his bat going by the time he has to face Robbie Ray or Patrick Corbin or Gio Gonzalez or Jon Lester.
Bellinger put all his tools on display in the Dodger two game winning streak. You kind of knew that for the Dodgers to find the winning path, that one of the four horsemen would need to lead them and it was Cody who stepped up. On Tuesday Night he made one of the best plays by a Dodger 1st baseman you will ever see but the Giants would not let him beat them with his bat by walking him three times intentionally. On Wednesday he did all his damage before they remembered to walk him. In the first, he hit a triple and it was really a stand-up triple even though he slid, more to stop his momentum than anything else. He followed that with a splash home run, and the splash home run is one of the great home runs of the 21st century. We don’t have many, so it was fun to see Chase and Cody do it in back to back games. He also made another fine play on a bullet line drive to his right.
Yu looked great but it was against the Giants. I heartily approve of Yu being skipped against the Nationals, no need in giving them advance notice of his repertoire.