Last season the Dodgers were the worst hitting team against lefties by a considerable margin. Two weeks into the season, they haven’t shown improvement.
Los Angeles finished the 2016 season with a .622 OPS against left-handed pitching, worst by a margin of 45 points. The team hit just .213 against southpaws, and their overall hitting against them was the worst ever by a playoff team.
Were those stats a fluke? Maybe, but the Dodgers haven’t proven it yet. They’ve started the season with an even worse .612 OPS, as opponents have loaded up left-handed pitching against them. The OPS is still only 10th worst in MLB so far, if that’s any consolation.
The Dodgers did add Logan Forsythe and Franklin Gutierrez in the offseason to nullify lefties, but Gutierrez is already on the DL. Elsewhere, right-handed hitting Yasiel Puig has yet to get a hit against them, and platoon players Scott Van Slyke and Enrique Hernandez are a combined 3-for-20.
Enter next week’s schedule, facing lefty Robbie Ray twice as well as one start vs. left-handed rookie Kyle Freeland. The Dodgers lineup will get ample opportunities to improve their standing against lefties. For Ray’s purposes, he’s 3-3 with a 2.96 ERA and 52/24 K/BB in 48.2 innings over eight starts against the Dodgers for his career. Last season accounted for much of his success, with a 3.60 ERA and 33 strikeouts in 25 innings over four starts.
Teams continue to resituate their rotations against the Dodgers, as the Cubs did this week with Jon Lester, trying to exploit one of LA’s only weaknesses. Until the Dodgers can prove that weakness is a thing of the past, fantasy owners should consider doing the same.
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-Yovani Gallardo’s early-season results haven’t been pretty, similar to last season, but you can count me as intrigued by his velocity rebound. The former Brewers ace saw his velocity decline start in 2013, and it’s no coincidence that his K/9 was just 6.4 over the last four seasons, compared to 9.3 over his first six years. After his fastball bottomed out at 90.3 mph last season, it’s back up to 92.6 mph in the early going this year. That’s the same velocity we saw from Gallardo at his peak. Gallardo’s early performance shows the significant risk, but I’d be willing to stash him for the chance that the velocity isn’t a mirage.
-Danny Salazar’s 2016 season ended with elbow trouble, but it’s safe to say he’s healthy based on his 15.4 K/9, second highest in baseball to Vince Velasquez. For what it’s worth, Salazar has also worked off of his changeup in the early going, throwing it 41 percent of the time, compared to just 19 percent last season.
-Andrew Triggs was a popular sleeper entering this season after posting a 2.70 ERA and 23/1 K/BB in 26.2 innings as a starter late last season. He has a 0.00 ERA through two starts early this season. It’s important to consider the small sample size as well as just four strikeouts in 11.2 innings before getting too carried away, but the success at least should garner attention in leagues where he’s still available.
-The market for Jason Hammel seemed to be oddly quiet this offseason before he agreed to a two-year, $16 million contract with the Royals. Did MLB teams know something? He’s struggled through two starts, allowing seven earned runs in 9.2 innings, also showing slightly depleted velocity. It’s far too early to panic, but we’ll know more at the end of the two-start week against San Francisco and Texas.
-Despite mediocre early results, I’ll take my chances on lefty Jaime Garcia this week in a two-start week against the Padres and Phillies. The Padres ranked 19th in baseball with a .732 OPS against lefties last season, while the Phillies only ranked ahead of the Dodgers with a .667 OPS. Usually an extreme groundball pitcher, Garcia’s groundball rate is down in the early going, but it only takes one start to change that percentage significantly at this time of year.
Yu Darvish: @OAK, KC
Danny Salazar: @MIN, @CHW
Michael Fulmer: @TB, @MIN
Marcus Stroman: BOS, @LAA
Eduardo Rodriguez: @TOR, @BAL
Joe Musgrove: LAA, @TB
Matt Andriese: @BOS, HOU
Andrew Triggs: TEX, SEA
Mike Fiers: LAA, @TB
Jason Hammel: SF, @TEX
Jordan Montgomery: CHW, @PIT
Yovani Gallardo: MIA, @OAK
Blake Snell: @BOS, HOU
At Your Own Risk
Ariel Miranda: MIA, @OAK
Kyle Gibson: CLE, DET
Jesse Chavez: @HOU, TOR
Jesse Hahn: TEX, SEA
A.J. Griffin: @OAK, KC
Ricky Nolasco: @HOU, TOR
Josh Tomlin: @MIN, @CHW
Derek Holland: @NYY, CLE
Steven Wright: TB, @BAL
Phil Hughes: CLE, DET
Ubaldo Jimenez: @CIN, BOS
Max Scherzer: @ATL, @NYM
Robbie Ray: @LAD, LAD
Mike Leake: PIT, @MIL
Jaime Garcia: SD, @PHI
Lance Lynn: PIT, @MIL
John Lackey: MIL, @CIN
Ivan Nova: @STL, NYY
Brandon McCarthy: ARI, @ARI
Amir Garrett: BAL, CHC
Shelby Miller: @LAD, LAD
Mike Foltynewicz: WAS, @PHI
Jimmy Nelson: @CHC, STL
Chase Anderson: @CHC, STL
At Your Own Risk
Zack Wheeler: PHI, WAS
Tom Koehler: @SEA, @SD
Jered Weaver: @ATL, MIA
Zach Lee: @ATL, MIA
The following pitchers are generally available in over 50 percent of fantasy leagues and have favorable match-ups this week:
Wednesday, April 19: Jason Vargas vs. SF
Vargas is fast gaining fantasy consideration after his first two starts of the year, allowing only one earned run over 13.2 innings with 14 strikeouts. It’s clear the lefty isn’t this good, judging from his track record, but he will be facing a Giants lineup that ranked 24th in OPS against lefties last season and will potentially still be without Buster Posey.
Wednesday, April 19: Martin Perez @ OAK
Oakland addressed their 2016 issues against left-handed pitching by adding Rajai Davis, and hoped Mark Canha could rebound from a lost season due to injury. So far, neither hitter has done much, while Perez is already coming off 5.1 scoreless innings against the A’s.
Wednesday, April 19: Adam Conley @ SEA
Want to know a lineup that has been really bad against left-handed pitching early this season? The Mariners have a .339 OPS against southpaws, albeit in just 29 at-bats. Seattle is likely to solve this issue once Nelson Cruz gets going, but Conley might be able to take advantage this week.
Thursday, April 20: Patrick Corbin @ SD
The Padres offense is already off to a lousy start, as expected, with only 35 runs scored in 10 games. It’s a great opportunity for Corbin to keep his early success going.
Friday, April 21: Bartolo Colon @ PHI
The veteran Colon has the number of the Phillies hitters, who have a combined .442 OPS against him over 181 career at-bats. Colon was 3-1 with a 3.03 ERA and 0.98 WHIP over four starts against Philadelphia last season.
6: BAL, CHW, DET, KC, NYY, TOR
7: BOS, CLE, HOU, LAA, MIN, OAK, SEA, TB, TEX
5: COL, SF
6: CHC, CIN, LAD, MIA, NYM, PHI, PIT, WAS
7: ARI, ATL, MIL, SD, STL
Here’s some injuries to prominent players over the last week, and other players to watch for in the coming week. You can get a full listing of injured players at Rotoworld's Injury Page.
Clay Buchholz: Out indefinitely (elbow)
Matt Bush: Status uncertain (shoulder)
Jackie Bradley Jr.: Could return from the DL this week (knee)
Andrew Cashner: Could return on Saturday (biceps)
Josh Donaldson: Likely headed to DL (calf)
Brett Gardner: Day-to-day (neck)
Jon Gray: Status uncertain (toe)
Adeiny Hechavarria: Out indefinitely (oblique)
Rich Hill: Could return on Sunday (blister)
Matt Kemp: Could return from the DL this week (hamstring)
Devin Mesoraco: Scheduled to come off the DL this week (hip)
Buster Posey: Eligible to return early this week (concussion)
Martin Prado: Could return this week (hamstring)
Colby Rasmus: Could return this week (hip)
Gary Sanchez: Out four weeks (biceps)
Jean Segura: Eligible to return next weekend (hamstring)
Mallex Smith: Day-to-day (hamstring)
Geovany Soto: Out indefinitely (elbow)
Trea Turner: Eligible to return April 19 (hamstring)