Dodgers need better results vs. southpaws

Dodgers need better results vs. southpaws

NEW YORK -- Next week or next month, it shouldn't matter too much to the Dodgers that they didn't score off CC Sabathia Tuesday night in a 3-0 loss to the Yankees at Yankee Stadium.

It shouldn't matter, except that it sort of does, for the simple reason that Sabathia throws left-handed. The Dodgers won't see him again unless these two teams meet in the World Series, but they sure will see more left-handers. If they can't break the pattern that continued Tuesday, well, that's a problem.

"We've got to do a better job when it comes to the playoffs," first baseman Adrian Gonzalez said. "That's it."

The Dodgers have the lowest batting average against lefties (.214) in the Majors. Three of the last four times they've been shut out, it has happened in a game where the opposing starter was left-handed. For the season, they're 20 games over .500 (63-43) when the opponent starts a right-hander, and two games under .500 (18-20) when a lefty shows up, with six of those 20 losses ending as shutouts.

There's a pattern, and it's not a good enough answer to say they've had some success against the Giants' Madison Bumgarner, who besides being left-handed is one of the best pitchers in the game.

Manager Dave Roberts said Tuesday the success against Bumgarner (0-2, 5.63 ERA in three 2016 starts against the Dodgers) makes the other struggles more puzzling. 

The Dodgers will see one lefty (Robbie Ray) this weekend in Arizona. They'll likely see two lefties (Bumgarner and Matt Moore) in a three-game series against the Giants next week at Dodger Stadium.

They could see Gio Gonzalez in a potential playoff matchup with the Nationals, or Jon Lester in a matchup with the Cubs. And then there are all the left-handed relievers opposing teams are certain to get ready if needed.

Roberts put six right-handed hitters in his lineup Tuesday night against Sabathia, and it didn't work. The six right-handers had the only three hits against him, but didn't come close to driving in a run.

"These are our guys," Roberts said. "And we've got to figure it out."

Carlos Ruiz, acquired in large part because he would be an upgrade against lefties, went 0-for-2 to lower his batting average as a Dodger to .154 (2-for-13). Yasiel Puig, who homered off left-handed reliever James Pazos Monday night, went 0-for-3 against Sabathia.

"Every time we [see] a left-hander, we feel good about it and are optimistic," Roberts said. "But it's been a tough year against left-handed pitching. As we finish these last 18 games, we're going to see some lefties, and rightfully so. There's got to be some point we break through."

The Dodgers will face more right-handers than left-handers, including four in a row the next four days. With a lead over the Giants in the National League West, they might be able to beat up on enough righties to hold on and win the division. But if not in September, it would figure they'd need a win or two against a lefty in October.

"We just haven't been good against them," Gonzalez said.

Danny Knobler is a contributor to MLB.com based in New York and covered the Dodgers on Tuesday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.