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The Dodgers' five left-handed starters and the Giants' search for an outfielder

The Dodgers signed Scott Kazmir to a three-year deal, giving them five left-handed starters. This probably won't push the Giants from Alex Gordon to Justin Upton, but it's at least a consideration.

Jason O. Watson/Getty Images

It would be a lot funnier if the Dodgers went from Zack Greinke to Scott Kazmir if those lousy Diamondbacks weren't the ones who stole Greinke away. Put him on the Tigers or something, and the offseason is an absolute scream. As is, it's only mildly amusing, with bursts of solemn contemplation.

It would also be a lot funnier if Kazmir wasn't pretty good. For half the money and the first-round pick, I'm pretty sure I would rather have him over Jeff Samardzija. I trust Samardzija's health a lot more, but I would peg them as having a roughly equal shot at an above-average 2016.

As is, I still do enjoy the Dodgers not having Zack Greinke or David Price. Or Johnny Cueto for that matter. And this new Dodgers rotation could affect what the Giants do with their last remaining outfield spot. Consider ...

  • Clayton Kershaw (LHP)
  • Hyun-Jin Ryu (LHP)
  • Scott Kazmir (LHP)
  • Alex Wood (LHP)
  • Brett Anderson (LHP)

Ayup, that's a lot of southpaws. The Giants generally hit left-handers well, although they had some weird platoon splits in both directions, with left-handed hitters hitting well against LHP (Belt, Crawford) and right-handers struggling in limited samples (Duffy, Pence). That will probably even out on both sides, so let's consider the Giants as a team without a substantial weakness against platoon splits.

When looking for that final outfielder, I'm not sure that the Giants should be thinking about the Dodgers' rotation (and Patrick Corbin) the entire time, but they should at least consider it. They play 18 games against the Dodgers, just over 10 percent of the season. Each of those games would be started by a left-hander, ostensibly. It's not a division-wide trend -- the Diamondbacks have two lefties in their projected rotation, and the Padres and Rockies each have one -- but the Dodgers being one of the two other teams expected to contend in the division should make a teensy difference in the outfielders the Giants consider.

So let's break the available outfielders (trade possibilities and free agents) into groups:

Substantially worse against left-handed pitching
Gerardo Parra
Carlos Gonzalez
Corey Dickerson

A little weaker against LHP
Denard Span
Alex Gordon
Yoenis Cespedes
Charlie Blackmon

No difference
Austin Jackson

A little stronger against LHP
Dexter Fowler
Alex Rios
Marlon Byrd

Much stronger against LHP
Justin Upton
Steve Pearce
Jonny Gomes
Shane Victorino
Jeff Francoeur

Just seeing if you're paying attention with those last two. Unless I'm dead, dead serious.

The Cespedes splits surprised me, too. He's at 658 plate appearances against LHP in his career, which is still few enough to be affected by sample-size gremlins, but probably meaningful. Most of the "much stronger" crowd are platoon/fifth-outfielder types, at best, so if the Giants are looking for a clear, unquestioned starter to be the designated lefty-masher with Buster Posey, Upton would be the one.

And while the Giants shouldn't ditch any of the possibilities because of poor splits, it would sure be a drag to give up prospects for Dickerson, only to have him flail helplessly at the Dodgers' phalanx of lefties. Same goes for Carlos Gonzalez, although it helps to point out that the Dodgers' bullpen will still pitch about a third of their innings.

No, the Giants shouldn't react specifically to the odd makeup of a rival rotation. If they prefer one hitter over another because of scouting/statistical reasons, they should just run with those reasons. But a quick look at platoon splits reinforces a couple of beliefs that I held before the Dodgers got Kazmir:

  1. Boy, Gerardo Parra is a bad idea
  2. The Giants have to be considered the favorites for Dexter Fowler

The Giants are balanced enough to where they don't have to chase Upton to hedge against match-up problems, and they probably shouldn't be messing around with limited platoon hitters like Gomes or, gulp, Francoeur. Still, the Dodgers have a rotation filled with lefties now. Will the Giants at least consider that when picking from the remaining outfielders on the market?

You'd think they would at least note it before making their decision. My guess is that it will reinforce their preference (financial and logistical) for Fowler.