LOS ANGELES -- Lefty-hitting Lucas Duda, Curtis Granderson and Daniel Murphy will be in the starting lineup against southpaw Clayton Kershaw in Game 1 of the division series between the New York Mets and Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday.
Meanwhile, a regular-season platoon that will remain intact will be in left field. Manager Terry Collins plans to start Michael Cuddyer in left field over lefty-hitting Michael Conforto, despite the rookie hitting .270 with nine homers and 26 RBIs in 174 at-bats at the major league level.
The only start Conforto may get in the NLDS is against right-hander Zack Greinke, since the Mets otherwise are expected to face only left-handed starting pitching (Kershaw, Brett Anderson and, potentially, Alex Wood).
Collins consistently has stated that Conforto should be an everyday player and not platoon beginning in 2016.
Conforto hit .333 (17-for-51) against left-handers and .303 against right-handers (37-for-122) with Double-A Binghamton this season before a July 24 promotion to the majors. He had only 14 major league at-bats against southpaws, and produced three singles. In fact, Conforto started only once against a left-handed pitcher -- in his major league debut, against the Dodgers' Ian Thomas, which coincided with Cuddyer landing on the disabled list with knee inflammation.
"There's been smaller samples where I've struggled a little bit," Conforto said about hitting left-handed pitching. "I think maybe my freshman year of college I had a little trouble. Jumping up from high school to the college level they get a little bit better and there are guys who come in to pitch specifically to lefties. But through college I had some really great coaches, really great people helping me with that. I saw left-handed batting practice almost every day. They matched me up with left-handed guys when we scrimmaged and stuff just to make me comfortable with it. So I don't feel uncomfortable at all. Things are the way they are right now, and we'll see what happens."
Conforto said he was not dejected upon recognizing that the Mets would face a Dodgers team that primarily has left-handed starting pitchers.
"I wouldn't say I was bummed," Conforto said. "I know there's a great chance that I'm going to get into a game no matter what happens and who is throwing. At this point, and since I've come up here, it's all about winning games. And the way we've been doing things has helped us win games. Whatever my role has to be to do that, I'll be completely happy and satisfied."
Conforto went 2-for-6 with a double and a walk as a pinch hitter during the regular season.
"It's basically just staying loose," Conforto said. "It kind of starts with the coaching staff letting us know when we're probably going to get in there. They always do a good job of keeping us informed on the situation. We can see what's going on as well. The routine is just getting in the cage, going through my stuff personally that I do. Everybody has their own stuff. So I'm pretty locked in on the pinch-hitting thing even though it's kind of new to me."