Dodgers Team News

Dodgers: Joey Gallo Isn’t Just Okay With Platoon Role, He Loves It

When Dodgers outfielder Joey Gallo homered off Jarlin Garcia on Tuesday, it was notable not just because it erased a deficit and gave the Dodgers a 3-1 lead, but also because Garcia throws with his left hand. Gallo, who bats left-handed, doesn’t see much left-handed pitching.

When Los Angeles acquired the former All-Star at the trade deadline, they had a specific plan for him, which they communicated immediately. Part of that plan was for Gallo to bat almost exclusively against right-handed pitching, to give him the best chance at success. While Gallo has hit lefties pretty well throughout his career, his performance against southpaws this season has been abysmal — even after the homer off Garcia, Gallo’s slash line against lefties is .125/.233/.250, with a .483 OPS that is 222 points below his mark against righties.

For a lot of players, especially a two-time All-Star like Gallo, being asked to platoon might be taken as a slap in the face. But, as J.P. Hoornstra writes in the Orange County Register, Gallo has not only accepted the role, he has actively embraced it.

“I went up to (Gallo) and told him I liked his swing,” Manager Dave Roberts said. “He just kind of reiterated to me that he still doesn’t want to play against left-handed pitching.”

Roberts laughed, but it’s a special sign of trust between a player and his team.

Gallo acknowledges that he hasn’t hit anyone very well this season, but he recognizes that he has been quite a bit worse against lefties, so removing that pressure has allowed him to focus on the at-bats he will get.

“With the lineup we have, it takes a lot of pressure off,” Gallo said. “I’m just kind of there, watching these guys get three hits a game. Maybe I can contribute a little bit but, you know, it’s nice to have such depth and so many talented players up and down the lineup that anybody can take over a game. It’s a lot of weight off your shoulder, I think.”

Speaking of pressure, Gallo has been open about the weight he felt playing in New York for the Yankees, and he’s equally open about the difference between batting in the middle of the order and dropping lower in the lineup, specifically on a team like the Dodgers.

“You know when you’re ‘the guy’ you’re going to get pitched around more,” Gallo said. “Just baseball situation stuff. But here I just feel like it’s tough to pitch around anybody because you’re dealing with guys – you’ve got an MVP (Bellinger) hitting ninth right now. That’s insane.”

Not everyone can embrace a platoon role, especially after having the success Gallo has had in his career. Joc Pederson left the Dodgers in free agency because he wasn’t ready to accept only playing against righties, and Joc had a much longer track record of being terrible against lefties than Gallo does. But Gallo seems to relish the new role, at least for now, and the results are showing on the field.

And if he occasionally bats against a lefty and occasionally hits a huge three-run homer, all the better.

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Jeff Snider

Jeff was born into a Dodgers family in Southern California and is now raising a Dodgers family of his own in Utah. During his previous career as an executive at a technology company, he began writing about baseball in his spare time. After leaving corporate America in 2014, he started doing it professionally. Jeff wrote and edited for Baseball Essential for years before joining Dodgers Nation. He's also the co-host of the Locked On Dodgers podcast, a daily podcast that brings the smart fan's perspective on our Boys in Blue. Jeff has a degree in English from Brigham Young University. Favorite Player: Clayton Kershaw Favorite Moment: Kirk Gibson's homer will always have a place, but Kershaw's homer on Opening Day 2013 might be the winner.

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