While the 2015 season has been another where the Los Angeles Dodgers have lost multiple outfielders throughout the year to injury, veteran Andre Ethier has been a stabilizing force. Bouncing back from a difficult 2014 campaign, the 33 year old is in the midst of a career year.
In 24 games played in August, 16 of which were starts, Ethier hit a blistering .375/.420/.625 with three home runs, one triple, five doubles and eight RBIs. Moreover, he posted a .446 wOBA and 191 wRC+, both of which are personal high marks for any calendar month this season.
Despite the hot bat, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly stayed away from starting Ethier with a left-hander taking the mound, and often pinch-hit for him whenever an opponent called on a lefty out of the bullpen.
As such, one night after hitting his 13th home run of the season, Ethier wasn’t in the lineup to face San Francisco Giants ace Madison Bumgarner. “Andre hasn’t played against a lefty almost the whole year,” Mattingly said. “This is what we have done all year long, I don’t know why it would be a surprise that he’s sitting.”
The Dodgers instead started Joc Pederson, Justin Ruggiano and Scott Van Slyke. The trio combined to go 3-for-9 against Bumgarner, with Pederson and Van Slyke combining for the three hits. Pederson’s lone hit was a solo home run in the seventh that proved to be the difference.
Ruggiano and Van Slyke were pinch-hit for in the eighth by Carl Crawford and Ethier, respectively. On the season Ethier is batting .297/.373/.491 with 13 home runs, 15 doubles and 42 RBIs. However, against lefties his averages drop to .222/.237/.278 with just two doubles and five RBIs. That’s down from his career line — .235/.292/.345 against same-side pitching.
Coupled with Mattingly’s comments, Van Slyke’s ability to hit left-handers well, Ruggiano’s arrival and Chris Heisey’s return, there doesn’t figure to be a shift in philosophy over the final month of the regular season.