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Fun with small sample sizes

Los Angeles Dodgers v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

LOS ANGELES — It’s hard, if not impossible to glean much from a nine-game sample, but in the early going in 2018 Dodgers pitchers haven’t yet seen much of a platoon benefit.

So far this season Dodgers left-handed pitchers have seen left-handed batters hit .288/.382/.508 against them, while right-handed batters have hit .266/.310/.430 against Dodgers right-handed pitchers. But Dodgers southpaws have held right-handed batters to just .190/.238/.314, and LA righties have kept left-handed batters to .254/.279/.305.

Dodgers pitchers have allowed eight home runs — six were hit by same-handed batters in 154 plate appearances, compared to two home runs by opposite-handed batters in 209 PA.

Dodgers pitchers in 2018

vs. same hand 154 6 .275/.382/.464
vs. opposite hand 209 2 .208/.250/.311

The Dodgers’ rotation is odd in that 80% of the starting staff throws left-handed, which in theory at least can be problematic since roughly three-fifths of the league’s plate appearances are taken by right-handed batters — it was 58.7% across MLB in 2017, and 59.7% so far in 2018. Not that the Dodgers are concerned, since their starters have generally performed well overall.

“We have a number of left-handed starters that are arguably better against righties and lefties. Handedness matters less than effectiveness against both sides,” Andrew Friedman said during spring training. “We have really good pitchers who happen to pitch with their left arm.”

Hyun-jin Ryu for instance was much more effective against right-handed batters in 2017, holding them to .240/.311/.419 while seeing lefties hit .326/.380/.581 against him. But in his one start this year the opposite was true.

Right-handed batters were 4-for-11 (.364) with two doubles, two triples and two walks in Ryu’s start last Monday in Arizona, while lefties were just 1-for-4 (.250) though with three walks.

Ryu on Tuesday night will face the Athletics, who have an odd split of their own, in that they have seen their left-handed batters total just 16 plate appearance against lefty pitchers, going 1-for-14 (.071) with three strikeouts and two walks. Twelve of those 16 plate appearances have come from first baseman Matt Olson, who has 26 home runs in 81 career major league games (four against southpaws).

So expect the A’s lineup to be stacked with right-handers. That will likely mean that Trayce Thompson will make his 2018 debut at Dodger Stadium after all. Thompson was claimed off waivers from the Dodgers by the Yankees last week, only to be placed on waivers again to be claimed by Oakland.

From Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle:

Thompson’s time with the A’s might be short, because the team needs a fifth starter again on April 17. However, multiple outfield injuries might mean a longer stint - Chad Pinder went on the DL Saturday with a bone bruise on his left knee, and Boog Powell was out Saturday night with a knee sprain and he will be re-evaluated Sunday.

Manager Bob Melvin said Saturday that Thompson will get some starts with the Dodgers throwing left-handers Alex Wood and Hyun-Jin Ryu on Tuesday and Wednesday in Los Angeles.

Broadcast news

Tuesday night’s opener will be televised on SportsNet LA and also on MLB Network, though the MLB Network broadcast will be blacked out in local markets.

Game info

Time: 7:10 p.m. PT

TV: SportsNet LA, MLB Network