Franklin Gutierrez makes his first start as a Dodger, after striking out as a pinch-hitter on Monday. He bats cleanup, in left field.
Gutierrez hit .293/.368/.548, a 151 wRC+ against southpaws over the last two seasons combined, with 20 home runs and 14 doubles in 329 plate appearances.
“We got him here to hit left-handed pitching,” manager Dave Roberts said of Gutierrez during spring training.
Gutierrez is 8-for-15 (.533) with a home run and a double in his career against Richard, though the two haven’t faced each other since 2012.
Joc Pederson sits against Richard as well, with the right-handed Kiké Hernandez getting the start in center field instead. Richard is one of three left-handers the Dodgers are expected to face this week.
“Joc’s not in there tonight, but he will see more left-handed pitching this season,” Roberts said.
Pederson started nine of the Dodgers’ 46 games against left-handed pitching in 2016, a number Roberts said will increase in 2017. I asked Roberts if there was a particular type of left-handed pitcher more suited for Pederson.
“I think velocity doesn’t affect Joc, as opposed to a left-hander who can spin it more,” Roberts said. “A lot of it depends on how Joc is swinging the bat, and days prior rest.
“Today it was more getting Kiké involved, though I guess I could make the same counter of why Scott Van Slyke should be in there, though Adrian has good numbers against Clayton.”
Adrian Gonzalez, 10-for-17 (.588) with a walk in his career against Richard, was moved from fourth to sixth in the order, with Yasiel Puig moved up from eighth to fifth.
Roberts said Van Slyke would also see some time at first base.
“I do see Adrian getting more days off, and it just makes sense to get him those days off against lefties,” Roberts said.