Dodgers face another left-hander, D-backs’ Ray

LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Dodgers do a lot of things right. However, excelling against left-handed pitchers isn’t among their strengths.

“Teams are going to try and keep running lefties out there,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said.

That goes for Monday as well, with the Arizona Diamondbacks presenting southpaw Robbie Ray in the finale of a four-game series. Los Angeles won the opening two games of the set, but Arizona bounced back for a 3-1 win Sunday.

The Dodgers are hitting just .226 against lefties. However, that is ahead of last year’s mark of .215, which was the worst in the majors and more than 20 points lower than the next team, the Baltimore Orioles.

“Last year was an outliner,” Roberts said. “We are not concerned.”

But until they prove otherwise, the Dodgers figure to get a heaping helping of southpaw dealing.

“This is different from 2016,” Roberts countered.

Ray (1-0) is looking like a different pitcher. He is coming off a 6 2/3-scoreless innings stint in a win over the San Francisco Giants last Tuedsay. He usually performs well against the Dodgers, fashioning a 2.96 ERA while compiling a 3-3 career record.

Ray will have to pitch carefully against Yasiel Puig, who leads the Dodgers with four homers. Against Ray, Puig is hitting .357 with a home run.

In defeating the Giants, Ray tiptoed around trouble as he issued five walks. But he made the key pitches when needed and was supported by some fine Arizona defense.

“(Ray) gave us a quality outing,” Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said. “He’s got a very aggressive fastball, and when he locates that, he can be very effective. He got in a great rhythm … and he just started to really dial in.”

The Dodgers will counter with Brandon McCarthy, a former Diamondback. McCarthy (2-0) is also coming off a fine outing, as he hurled six scoreless innings in Wrigley Field against the Chicago Cubs on Wednesday. McCarthy, who was sidelined for most of the past two years with injuries, seems to be back on track.

“The stuff has been really good,” Roberts said. “His four-pitch mix, the sinker, the change, the curveball the cutter, is really good.

“And it’s just how he competes. He worked real hard this winter and in spring. He’s been focused, he’s been determined.”

The more McCarthy pitches, the more Roberts likes what he sees. The right-hander has faced the Diamondbacks just one other time, throwing six innings of scoreless ball last July 16, although he didn’t figure into the decision despite giving up just three hits.

“With Brandon, I’m learning more and more about him,” Roberts said. “I didn’t see him a lot last year, but he’s as determined as anyone this year to have a great season.”

Roberts even compares McCarthy’s drive with Clayton Kershaw’s, which is high praise indeed.

McCarthy’s role grows in significance considering the Dodgers’ rotation concerns.

Lefty Rich Hill, fresh off the disabled list, lasted only three innings and 54 pitches on Sunday before blisters ended his outing. He could be headed back to the disabled list.

The night before, Kenta Maeda survived only four innings before getting chased after surrendering four runs. Maeda’s ERA sits at 7.07.