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Dylan Floro is changing things up against lefties this season

Floro has used his changeup over half the time against left-handed batters in 2020

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Los Angeles Dodgers v San Diego Padres Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images

It’s still ridiculously early in the season, and the sample sizes are small, but they are all we have right now, and it’s been so far, so good for the Dodgers bullpen.

Dodgers relief pitchers have a 1.39 ERA through 17 games, and are second in FanGraphs WAR, behind only Oakland.

Dylan Floro has yet to allow a run in seven appearances, allowing only three hits and a walk in 6⅔ innings while striking out seven. He’s also in the 97th percentile in MLB in average exit velocity allowed, only 80.6 mph per Baseball Savant.

“I think overall, his stuff is better. His sinker is now he’s sitting 93, averaging a little north of 93, and there’s some 94s in there,” Dave Roberts said Monday. “The sinker has the run and the depth that I remember seeing in ‘18. The slider location has been more consistent, and his changeup to lefties has been really a game changer.”

Floro in his career has been much better against right-handed batters (.240/.290/.344) than left-handers (.297/.367/.426), though it’s been a rollercoaster for him against lefties with the Dodgers:

Floro vs. LHB with the Dodgers

Year Hits-AB BA/OBP/SLG K rate BB rate Changeup %
Year Hits-AB BA/OBP/SLG K rate BB rate Changeup %
2018 6 for 30 .200/.294/.200 35.3% 11.8% 7.4%
2019 20 for 59 .339/.426/.508 22.1% 11.8% 9.1%
2020 0 for 10 .000/.000.000 30.0% 0.0% 55.9%
Source: Baseball Savant & Baseball-Reference

This year, Floro has thrown his changeup 19 times in 34 pitches to left-handers (55.9 percent), and he’s gotten seven of his 10 outs against lefties with that pitch, including all three strikeouts. He only threw the changeup to lefties 8.6 percent of the time with Los Angeles in 2018-19 combined.

It’s helped, since with the three-batter minimum rule for relievers, he’s faced lefties 43.5 percent of the time so far (again, small sample size) compared to 33.8 percent last year.

“It was a big focus for me this offseason, knowing you’d have to face three guys, so chances of me facing a lefty are pretty high,” Floro said Monday. “I knew I was going to need something for the lefties to stay off just sitting on my two-seam [fastball].”

Floro said he threw his changeup more as a starting pitcher in the minor leagues, but has struggled with the pitch as a reliever in the majors, throwing it just 14.1 percent of the time to left-handers in his four previous seasons.

“I just never felt too comfortable with it, and tried to overpower it too much,” he said. “Now, instead of just trying to throw it as hard as I possibly can, I’m just letting the grip work.”