The Dodgers play their final regular season games in an American League park in 2017 this weekend against the Tigers in Detroit, affording them the opportunity to use the designated hitter for three games.
Corey Seager occupies the DH spot on Friday night, with gives Chris Taylor a chance at shortstop, his first start at the position since June 28, and third start at shortstop this season.
Taylor to shortstop opens up left field for Cody Bellinger, who made his last 31 starts at first base. Friday is Bellinger’s 35th start in left field this season, to go with 58 at first base, two in right field, and once as designated hitter.
Adrian Gonzalez is back at first base in his first game back off the disabled list, playing his first major league game since June 11.
Gonzalez is batting seventh on Friday, the first time he has batted seventh or lower since Sept. 1, 2006 with San Diego. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts on MLB Network Radio earlier on Friday said Gonzalez would start at first base on Saturday as well, then serve as the designated hitter in Sunday’s series finale.
Gonzalez is 5-for-21 (.238) with a home run and a double against Tigers starter Jordan Zimmermann, though the two haven’t faced each other since 2015.
The Tigers lead baseball with a 123 wRC+ against left-handed pitching, and face two Dodgers southpaw starters this series, including Rich Hill on Friday night.
Detroit’s leading mashers against southpaws include Justin Upton (.338/.412/.656, 189 wRC+), James McCann (.338/.398/.638, 174 wRC+), and Nick Castellanos (.269/.319/.611, 140 wRC+). It should be noted that J.D. Martinez, traded to Arizona in July, murdered lefties as well with the Tigers, to the tune of .474/.556/1.105, but only in 45 plate appearances.
The Dodgers are third in MLB in wRC+ against both lefties (114) and right-handers (109) this season, and face three right-handed starting pitchers. Detroit is 19th in MLB against righties, with a 95 wRC+.