<
>

The Dodgers' lefty-on-lefty problem

8/22/2012

LOS ANGELES -- One reason the Dodgers have had difficulty rallying lately is that other teams find it so easy to manage their bullpens against the Dodgers.

If they have a left-handed specialist, they save him for Andre Ethier's most meaningful at-bat and Ethier has been unable to do anything about it. Ethier has always struggled against left-handed pitchers, but it has been more pronounced this season. Ethier is hitting .213 against lefties and .316 against righties.

You would think Dodgers manager Don Mattingly could help. He hit .296 against lefties, just .018 points worse than his lifetime average against righties, but he has been unable to find the key to Ethier's struggles.

"Obviously not," Mattingly said.

Mattingly said he's not dissatisfied with Ethier's approach to the problem. He also says he thinks it's a bit of a negative feedback loop. As Ethier struggles, he begins to think about it more.

"[Media members] are going to let him know that he's not hitting lefties. He already knows and then, as you let him know, you're letting the people know, so everywhere he goes, they're letting him know," Mattingly said. "You can't really get away from it."

Wednesday could be something of a respite from Ethier's troubles (0 for his last 14), as Matt Cain is one of his favorite pitchers to face. Ethier is batting .480 off Cain in 50 career at-bats. That's the best hitter-pitcher matchup (minimum 50 at-bats) in the majors, slightly ahead of Matt Kemp vs. Barry Zito (.462).

Here are the rest of the lineups for Wednesday's game, with the Dodgers trying to evade a three-game sweep and a 2 1/2-game deficit in the NL West:

San Francisco

Angel Pagan CF

Marco Scutaro 2B

Pablo Sandoval 3B

Hunter Pence RF

Joaquin Arias SS

Hector Sanchez C

Brandon Belt 1B

Justin Christian LF

Matt Cain P

Dodgers

Shane Victorino LF

Mark Ellis 2B

Matt Kemp CF

Andre Ethier RF

Hanley Ramirez SS

James Loney 1B

Luis Cruz 3B

A.J. Ellis C

Chris Capuano P