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Don Mattingly backs slumping, frustrated Joc Pederson

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LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers continued their offensive woes on Tuesday night, getting shutout on three hits by Sonny Gray and the Athletics. Though he was hardly alone, Joc Pederson continued his rough July going 0-for-4 with three more strikeouts.

Pederson is hitting .228/.352/.464 on the season, though the first of those three numbers gets cited the most, usually along with the major-league leading strikeout total, now up to 122 on the season.

"I didn't think he would strikeout this much. It's more than I want," manager Don Mattingly said. "But you still see the huge upside. Everything about Joc is really what I like, as far as his work ethic, what kind of teammate he is, and how he goes about his business. When you have the talent and you work at it, you're going to see improvement. It's not always easy during the course of the season."

In July, Pederson is hitting just .176/.239/.271 with one home run and 28 strikeouts in 92 plate appearances. But what is troubling is that Pederson has just four walks during that time.

"He seems to be frustrated. I'm a little bit [concerned]," said Mattingly, who added there has been talk of moving Pederson out of the leadoff spot, where Pederson has started 67 of the last 81 games.

The strikeout rate for Pederson has been relatively constant all year, ranging from 28.6 percent in April to 30.1 percent in May, to 28.2 percent in June, followed by 30.4 percent in July.

Pederson's walk rate for the first three months combined was 17.0 percent, but stands at 4.3 percent in July.

Pederson heard the boos after his third strikeout, caught swinging by Gray to end the sixth. Perhaps part of the crowd reaction was the pent up frustration of a night of Gray dominating, but it was Pederson who took the brunt of it.

While clearly not aesthetically appealing, strikeouts cause people to lose their minds. Pederson, a Home Run Derby finalist with a penchant for swinging hard all the time, is an easy target.

But it's not that simple.

"He's working on different things. It's not like he's just going up there, I know it looks like he's swinging for the fences all the time. That's not what he's trying to do," Mattingly explained. "He's trying to get inside the ball a little bit using his bottom hand. He's frustrated.

"At some point Joc's going to get that front side thing, and he's going to be a monster. He's going to be tough to get out."

The Dodgers could use a monster or two in their lineup right now.

The club is averaging just 3.5 runs per game in July, have scored four runs in their last three games combined, and have scored two or fewer runs in 30 of their last 66 contests.

Up next

The Dodgers turn to Clayton Kershaw for Wednesday's series finale, looking to extend his 29-inning scoreless streak. The Athletics will start Jesse Chavez, who was born in Victorville and went to Riverside Community College.