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Fifth spot has been a hole in the Dodgers batting order

MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at Washington Nationals
This trio has combined to start 37 times in the fifth spot in 2017, including 20 starts from Yasiel Puig.
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

As the Dodgers try to snap their three-game losing streak on Wednesday night against the Phillies, someone will almost certainly bat fifth for Los Angeles.

After all, those are the rules. But the question is, will that batter actually be productive? Because fifth-place hitters have not been good for the 2017 Dodgers.

For the most part, the Dodgers on most nights have a set top four hitters, with Chris Taylor, Corey Seager, Justin Turner, and Cody Bellinger occupying spots one through four. But finding consistent production out of the five hole has been an issue.

Dodgers lineup production

Order position BA/OBP/SLG OPS (rank) wRC+ (rank)
Order position BA/OBP/SLG OPS (rank) wRC+ (rank)
1st .271/.344/.468 .812 (5th) 116 (5th)
2nd .274/.359/.456 .815 (9th) 118 (7th)
3rd .283/.368/.458 .826 (13th) 122 (12th)
4th .268/.346/.507 .853 (6th) 122 (8th)
5th .213/.307/.380 .687 (28th) 85 (28th)
6th .256/.350/.497 .848 (2nd) 124 (2nd)
7th .258/.347/.438 .785 (9th) 110 (7th)
8th .241/.329/.448 .778 (4th) 104 (3rd)
9th .163/.237/.239 .476 (24th) 29 (22nd)
Source: Baseball-Reference & FanGraphs

Dodgers’ fifth-place hitters are hitting a collective .213/.307/.380, 28th in MLB in both OPS (.687) and wRC+ (85), tied for 24th in home runs (19) and 29th batting average (.207) in RBI (66).

In each of the other first eight spots in the batting order, the Dodgers rank among the top 13 in both OPS and wRC+, including in the top nine in six spots.

With runners in scoring position, Dodgers fifth-place hitters are batting .181/.295/.338 on the season. The rest of the team is hitting .260/.373/.443 with RISP.

The fifth spot has been a revolving door all season for the Dodgers, with 12 different players getting starts there, including three different players in the last three games. Yasmani Grandal has the most starts batting fifth with 31, but is hitting just .216/.290/.362 in those games.

Logan Forsythe has started 25 times batting fifth and has been general productive, hitting .276/.407/.356, but with no home runs. Bellinger hit .257/.316/.600 with four home runs in his nine games in the fifth spot before settling in as the regular cleanup hitter.

Bellinger is a big reason the Dodgers need production out of the fifth spot.

“That is something we’re trying to work through,” manager Dave Roberts told reporters last week. “If there is nobody behind Cody who is potent or productive, then it really doesn’t serve any team a purpose to pitch to him. You have one of our best bats in the lineup, and we want him to see pitches.”

Dodgers fifth-place hitters in 2017

Yasmani Grandal 31 131 8 3 11 13 13 .216/.290/.362 0.652
Logan Forsythe 25 108 7 0 18 9 18 .276/.407/.356 0.764
Yasiel Puig 20 83 5 4 7 9 7 .187/.265/.413 0.678
Chris Taylor 15 65 3 1 11 3 8 .211/.308/.351 0.659
Joc Pederson 14 55 2 2 6 5 7 .178/.327/.356 0.683
Adrian Gonzalez 11 44 5 1 1 6 1 .233/.250/.419 0.669
Cody Bellinger 9 38 0 4 7 11 3 .257/.316/.600 0.916
Austin Barnes 9 33 0 1 3 2 4 .179/.303/.286 0.589
Kiké Hernandez 8 35 2 2 7 5 6 .207/.343/.483 0.826
All others 9 43 2 1 4 3 3 .125/.186/.250 0.436
Totals 151 635 34 19 75 66 70 .213/.317/.380 0.687

Yasiel Puig, with 20 starts batting fifth, has been getting a shot with eight of his last 10 starts there. He’s hitting just .187/.265/.413 batting fifth on the season, though in those last eight starts there he’s 10-for-33 with four doubles, two home runs, seven RBI and a walk, hitting .303/.324/.606 in those games.

Puig bats fifth again on Wednesday night.

Pitching matchup

Alex Wood starts for the Dodgers on Wednesday, looking for his second win on the road trip. This will be the 99th start by a Dodgers left-handed pitcher in 2017, second-most in franchise history to the 1965 team that had 112 southpaw starts.

Jake Thompson starts for the Phillies, sporting a 3.31 ERA in three September starts. Seven of his eight runs allowed this month came on Sept. 8 against the Nationals. The right-hander won his last time out, pitching scoreless baseball into the sixth inning to beat the Marlins.

Fifth-place hitters coincidentally are 4-for-19 (.211) with a home run and a double against Thompson this season, in case you were wondering.

Game info

Time: 4:05 p.m. PT

TV: SportsNet LA