The Los Angeles Dodgers were able to win a second consecutive one-run game against the division rival San Francisco Giants Tuesday night, thanks in large part to a seventh-inning solo home run by Joc Pederson off Madison Bumgarner.
Pederson’s home run was a long time coming as he managed only six hits in August. Over 74 plate appearances in 22 games (18 starts), he hit .120/.384/.260 with four RBIs, 21 strikeouts and 21 walks, but a .312 wOBA and 100 wRC+.
“Obviously you feel good when there’s success with a guy that’s been struggling,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. “But especially when a guy has been working on something. I think the fact that he’s starting to see some results with the contact and the swings, that has a chance to put a true belief in what he’s doing.”
Pederson finished the night 1-for-3 against the Giants ace, but made solid contact on his two fly outs with exit velocities of 92 and 93 mph. “Joc had good swings all night tonight,” said Mattingly.
As for Pederson working to pull himself out of the month-long slump, Mattingly acknowledged it’s a more difficult task for an inexperienced player. “I think it’s harder, for sure. When he hasn’t been through it,” he said.
Mattingly cited Pederson’s attitude as a reason others on the club are willing to help the rookie center fielder. “He’s been a good rookie from the standpoint of the guys get on him, he’s taking it,” the fifth-year manager said.
“When that happens, you get a nice progression of guys that really want to help him. I’m sure he’s getting a lot of advice. He’s had a pretty good face through all of this, staying positive. He’s not moping around.”
Despite Pederson’s average in August being just .120, his walk rate (28.4 percent) was the highest of any month this season and his .384 on-base percentage was his highest in any month since April.
Despite the struggles, he has still shown signs of being a productive big league player, and the home run he hit off Bumgarner was perhaps the biggest hit in his young career. “Hopefully this just continues to build,” Mattingly said. “He’s been able to do a lot of work. Him and [Dodgers hitting coach Mark McGwire] are trying to make some changes.”