The Dodgers will have to figure out a way to hit left-hander Max Fried to avoid getting left behind. Los Angeles has a chance to even things up with the Braves in Game 6 of the NLCS on Saturday afternoon at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas.
Often times, how a team or player starts a season in a particular stat drives the conversation about that stat, no matter how things evolve. To that end, the Dodgers hit .249/.336/.442 against left-handed pitchers in 2020, the 113 wRC+ ranking eighth in the majors and their 27 home runs against southpaws tied for fourth.
It isn’t as good as the Dodgers hit right-handers (.259/.339/.498, league-best 126 wRC+), but the performance against lefties was well above average.
But they didn’t start the season hitting left-handers well. It was a topic of conversation for most of the season, and for good reason. At the end of August, 36 games in, the Dodgers were hitting just .223/.316/.358 against lefties, an 89 wRC+ that ranked 20th in MLB.
Some of the underlying numbers suggested an improvement was afoot, especially with the track records of several of the players involved.
That’s basically what happened, thanks to a strong September, hitting .293/.371/.582 against lefties, a 152 wRC+ to bring the seasonal numbers well above average.
Somewhat surprisingly, Mookie Betts’ numbers never came around against lefties. He was 11-for-55 against lefties this season, hitting just .200/.313/.218, a 56 wRC+ that’s a far cry from his 133 career wRC+ against them. This postseason Betts doubled in his first two at-bats against a lefty (Brent Suter), which was one more extra-base hit he had all year against southpaws. But he’s 0-for-10 with two walks against lefties since then.
“I’ve been struggling a little bit against lefties,” Betts said this week. “There’s no answer for it.”
Even with Betts’ struggles, the Dodgers are hitting .299/.403/.570 against left-handers this postseason. That includes 4-for-22 (.182) with two walks against Fried in Game 1, plus a home run from Kiké Hernandez.
Improving those numbers will be the key to Game 6.
“Going forward, there’s going to be arms that we’ve seen, and I think it’s going to help our club offensively,” manager Dave Roberts said.
If the Dodgers win Game 6, Joe Davis will handle play-by-play duties for Game 7 on Sunday, with Joe Buck calling the Packers-Buccaneers football game for Fox.