Chris Taylor has really started to find his stride. After playing his way into a platoon and almost out of playing time early in April, he’s starting to figure things out.
Heading into the Dodgers’ series against the Pirates on April 24, Taylor was hitting just .111.
Since then, in 10 games, Taylor is 11-for-33 with two home runs, eight runs batted in, three doubles and one triple. His slash line is an impressive .333/.371/.667 in that time, and has him sporting an incredible OPS of 1.038. He’s earned himself some consistent playing time, and has made the most of it.
Most recently, in the Dodgers’ 2-1 win over the Padres on Saturday, it was Taylor’s two-out, two-run home run in the 4th inning off of Padres starter Blake Snell that was ultimately the difference in the game. It was the only hit the Dodgers mustered off of Snell all game — but it proved to be enough.
Taylor spoke with reporters after the game about his approach during that crucial at-bat (per Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register).
“Just a mistake pitch,” Taylor said. “Obviously (Snell is) trying to go down on that pitch but when it’s up, it doesn’t really have the same movement. It’s not really a pitch you normally think about with him. I was just trying to get something up because all his off-speed is good down in the zone.”
That swing from Taylor is a testament to the work he’s put in to figure things out.
Just a few weeks ago, he was looking like someone who was going to fall out of the lineup completely, which is not exactly what you want to see out of your $60 million outfielder.
But instead, he’s started to put together good at-bats, and is showing flashes of the All-Star the Dodgers got in the first half of the 2021 season.
A well-playing Taylor is crucial to the success of the Dodgers, especially against left-handed pitching.
The Dodgers have a logjam of outfielders, but none — outside of Mookie Betts — have emerged as a great option against left-handed pitching.
The Dodgers were hoping Trayce Thompson would be that guy, but his reverse splits from last season have continued — and, if anything, have gotten even worse.
Against lefties this season, Thompson is an abysmal 2-for-28. His slash line is .071/.188/.179. Since his first at-bat of the season, when he hit a home run off of LHP Madison Bumgarner — who was later designated for assignment — Thompson has just one hit in 31 plate appearances.
If Taylor can prove to be a consistent hitter against lefties, and potentially play some shortstop against righties, he can not only earn himself a ton more playing time, but he can greatly elevate this Dodgers lineup.
The Dodgers top five of the lineup, when healthy, is as good as anyone’s in baseball. But, like last year, the Dodgers know they need some production from the bottom of the lineup to be successful. It would be great for everyone if Taylor can be that guy.
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