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3 Dodgers key to turnaround vs. lefties

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LA to face 4 LHP on this homestand

MLB: Arizona Diamondbacks at Los Angeles Dodgers Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Dodgers’ problems with left-handed pitchers have been well documented this season, and the club will likely face four southpaws this week, beginning with a tough test in Madison Bumgarner on Monday night. Three players will be key to the Dodgers turning things around against lefties both this week and into October.

In 2016, the Dodgers are hitting .213/.291/.334 against left-handed pitchers, 30th in MLB in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, OPS, wOBA (.276) and wRC+ (73).

The three players to watch to turn things around for LA against lefties are Kiké Hernandez, Justin Turner and Yasiel Puig.

Hernandez has had a rough season in 2016, hitting .203/.295/.354 overall, including .204/.333/.408 against southpaws. That 104 wRC+ is actually one of the better marks on the team, second only to Yasmani Grandal among those with any sort of playing time.

But that number follows 2015, when Hernandez was the best hitter in baseball against lefties, hitting .361/.426/.611 against them in the majors in 2014-2015 combined. In addition, Hernandez started 2016 8-for-11 against left-handers with four extra-base hits. That included two starts against Bumgarner, including a signature performance on Jackie Robinson Day with two home runs and a double.

Since that April 15 game, Hernandez is 13-for-91 with four doubles, three home runs and 19 walks, hitting .143/.291/.286 against southpaws. But he homered and singled on Sunday against lefty Robbie Ray, one of three extra-base hits for Hernandez this month against lefties.

Hernandez is 6-for-9 with two home runs and two doubles this year against Bumgarner, and was 5-for-10 with a home run and two doubles against him in 2015. Maybe Bumgarner is just what Hernandez needs to get/keep things going.

Turner is by all accounts having a fine season, a key cog in the heart of the Dodgers lineup, hitting .268/.332/.499 while leading the team in home runs (27) and RBI (85). Turner has always had reverse splits, hitting better against right-handers than lefties, but in 2016 that has been extreme.

Turner is hitting just .197/.298/.333 against southpaws in 2016, compared to .246/.324/.372 in his career.

He is 4-for-8 (.500) with all singles against Bumgarner this season, and in his career is 11-for-41 with two home runs and two doubles, hitting .268/.311/.463 against him.

Puig’s role since his return from Triple-A Oklahoma City has been pretty clearly defined. He has started all five games in September against a left-handed pitcher, and has started once in the 11 games against right-handed pitchers.

This week, with potentially four left-handed pitchers set to face the Dodgers, is set up for Puig to make his mark.

Since his return, Puig is 5-for-17 (.294) with three home runs and two walks against lefties. He is 0-for-8 with three walks against right-handed pitchers.

On the season he is hitting .242/.305/.442 against left-handed pitchers. He doesn’t have much of a difference in his career numbers against either hand, hitting .279/.371/.470 against southpaws.

Puig has two home runs against Bumgarner, but those were hit in 2013 and 2014. It’s worth noting, if only to be able to show this picture:

MLB: San Francisco Giants at Los Angeles Dodgers
Sep 23, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers right fielder Yasiel Puig (66) yells at San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner (40) (not pictured) after Bumgarner hit Puig with a pitch during the first inning at Dodger Stadium.
Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Puig carries an 0-for-11 skid overall, with a walk, into Monday night’s game.