2017 was an up-and-down year for Joc Pederson. The outfielder hit .241/.361/.466 with nine homers in the first half before a .156/.253/.312 start to the second half led to his demotion to Triple-A Oklahoma City in the middle of August. His struggles continued for the remainder of the regular season (at Triple-A and with the Dodgers), and he finished out the second half with a .162/.278/.303 line in 43 games. Pederson turned things around in the postseason, however, hitting .304/.360/.826 with three homers in the final two series after being left off the NLDS roster. Most of his opportunities came against right-handed pitching last season due to his struggles against same-handed pitching, and given the depth that the Dodgers possess in the outfield, it's hard to see that changing in 2018. Still, he's a solid source of power late in drafts and is even more intriguing in leagues where OBP is used in place of batting average.
Pederson agreed to a one-year contract with the Dodgers on Friday, avoiding arbitration. Last season was a trying one for Pederson, as he missed time due to injury and struggled at the plate, even earning a demotion to Triple-A for a while in the second half. He finished on a high note with two homers in the World Series, but Pederson will likely be platooned heavily again to begin 2018, and he could lose out on playing time against righties to Alex Verdugo if he gets off to a slow start.
Pederson will bat sixth and play left field for Game 2 of the World Series against the Astros on Wednesday. With right-hander Justin Verlander on the hill for Houston, manager Dave Roberts will turn to a lefty bat and place Enrique Hernandez on the bench for this contest. He decided to go with Pederson over Andre Ethier because of the former's ability to hit velocity. This marks only the second start Pederson has made in the 2017 postseason, the other coming in the NLCS against the Cubs in Game 3, in which he went 1-for-3 from the plate.
Pederson started in left field and went 0-for-4 with a pair of strikeouts in Saturday's loss to the Rockies. While he didn't produce anything at the plate, it is important to note that Pederson -- and not Curtis Granderson -- got the start in left field in what appeared to be the Dodgers' "A" lineup. It is also possible that manager Dave Roberts plans to rotate several options in left field now that rosters have expanded. Pederson owns an unsavory .211/.326/.406 slash line this season, so he wouldn't be more than a deep-league option for homer potential even if he did regain an everyday role.
Pederson was recalled from Triple-A Oklahoma City on Tuesday. The Dodgers did not bring Pederson back right away when rosters expanded, choosing instead to continue his reclamation project in the minors for a while longer. He's back now, but Pederson failed to get going with Oklahoma City, and as a result of his prolonged struggles, figures to play a marginal role off the bench over the remaining weeks. Cody Bellinger is starting in center field Tuesday with Adrian Gonzalez at first. Chris Taylor and Alex Verdugo both figure to remain involved in center as well.
Pederson remains in line to see a promotion to the big leagues, but manager Dave Roberts would not provide a specific timetable, Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reports. "I would expect Joc back," Roberts stated, before adding that "nothing is set in stone." Pederson managed just a .215 batting average across 87 games this season, and to make matters worse, his power also took a hit. He produced totals of 26 and 25 home runs in 2015 and 2016, respectively, but has tallied just 11 so far this season. Things haven't gotten much better since his demotion either, as he's slashing just .158/.222/.281 in the minor leagues. Pederson could eventually be used as a threat against right-handed pitching off the bench, but his days of consistent playing time in center field may be nearing an end. The Dodgers are currently giving Alex Verdugo an extended look there, and depending on how that goes, the job may or may not be returned to Chris Taylor once Corey Seager (elbow) is healthy. Los Angeles is simply too deep to give an all-or-nothing hitter like Pederson steady run in the postseason.