It has been a trying few months for Dodgers outfielder Joc Pederson, but after hitting a home run on Wednesday night will get another start in left field in Game 3 of the World Series against the Astros on Friday night at Minute Maid Park in Houston.
In Game 2 on Wednesday night at Dodger Stadium, Pederson homered in the fifth inning against Justin Verlander to tie the game at 1-1, his second career postseason home run. That was the first hit allowed by Verlander, and the first of a World Series-record eight home runs hit by both teams combined on Wednesday.
Pederson has always been a streaky hitter, and was hitting .248/.359/.481 as late as July 28. But a 2-for-41 (.049) slump not only prompted the Dodgers to trade for Curtis Granderson, but also saw Pederson demoted to Triple-A Oklahoma City, his first non-rehab minor league stint since 2014.
“Joc as a player who is very talented, who is a big part of what we’ve done in the past, present and the future. But I think at that point in time there needed to be clear changes and growth for him on the field, off the field,” Dave Roberts said. “Expectations are high here.”
After working on his swing in Triple-A, Pederson played sparingly in September, starting six games. He was 4-for-22 (.182) with six walks in the final month of the regular season, but that included two doubles on the final day of the year. He is 2-for-8 (.250) with a home run and a double so far in the postseason.
“He’s done a lot of good things. You’re always trying to challenge guys to get better and not be complacent. Not to say that Joc was complacent, but to get better,” Roberts said. “To his credit he embraced it.”
Roberts wouldn’t say who his designated hitter would be in Game 3, but Austin Barnes will catch and Corey Seager is likely to remain at shortstop. Seager played all 20 innings at shortstop in the first two games of the series, feeling no ill effects from the back sprain that kept him out of the NLCS.
“No complaints, I feel normal,” Seager said Wednesday night. “You go through 11 [innings], you can cover nine.”
With the right-handed Lance McCullers Jr. starting for the Astros, the Dodgers’ likely DH options for Friday include Andre Ethier and Yasmani Grandal.
“There’s a couple of guys that I’m thinking through on the DH spot, and I just kind of really want to dig into it a little bit more,” Roberts said.