Dodgers Roster: Scott Van Slyke, Rob Segedin Vying for Same Utility Spot

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(Mandatory Credit: Jon SooHoo Los Angeles Dodgers)

In the greater scope of things, there’s probably not enough room on the Dodgers‘ 25-man roster for both Scott Van Slyke and Rob Segedin, especially if the majority of the club’s key contributors are 100% healthy. However, with lefty killer Franklin Gutierrez still nursing a tender hamstring and veteran southpaw Rich Hill back on the shelf for an undetermined amount of time, the team turned to Segedin on Monday with hopes of creating a jolt of offensive energy against left-handed pitching.

Gutierrez can conceivably return as soon as Friday when the Dodgers are on the road against Arizona, forcing the club’s management crew to make another tough decision in regards to opening up a 25-man roster spot. While many believe that Segedin will be shipped back to Triple-A Oklahoma City just as quickly as he arrived, the 28-year-old Tulane grad still has a few days to prove to the coaching staff why he should stay. Once all the dust settles, the roster decision may quite possibly boil down to keeping either Van Slyke or Segedin.

Both players have many of the same talents. Defensively, both have the ability to man first base adequately, and both have the capability to handle each of the corner outfield spots, with SVS perhaps gaining the edge with his proficiency in center field. Van Slyke could have an advantage as far as range and route-running goes, but Segedin may have a very, very slight edge in terms of arm strength. The biggest advantage for Segedin, though, could be the fact that he’s a competent third baseman. Offensively, the two bring similar skills to the dish. While SVS has always been notorious for his expertise against southpaw pitching, Segedin has demonstrated that he can hit both righties and lefties equally well.

In 2016, Segedin hit .233/.301/.370 with two home runs, a couple of doubles, a triple and 12 RBI over 83 plate appearances in 40 major league games. When looking at his splits, he showed reverse tendencies, having hit .265/.325/.382 in 40 chances against righties, while slashing .205/.279/.359 in 43 plate appearances against left-handed pitching. At the Triple-A level last season, however, Segedin hit .302/.372/.565 with 18 long balls in 349 PAs against right-handed throwers, while logging a .312/.386/.551 line with five home runs over 158 plate appearances against southpaws. Both lines coincidentally calculate to a .937 OPS, suggesting his adeptness versus both right-handed and left-handed pitching.

To begin the season at OKC, Segedin was 12-for-37 with two doubles, two long balls and five RBI in nine games played. In his first big league game of 2016 against the Diamondbacks on Monday night, he went 1-for-3 with a run scored.

After battling several different injury issues during the second half of last season, SVS appears to be back on track with hopes of solidifying his presence on the big league roster. The 30-year-old utility man has been on a steady decline since a productive 2014, however, when he hit .297/.386/.524 with 11 home runs in 246 plate appearances. Post-2014, he’s hit a combined .235/.309/.361 and has become commonly identified as being injury prone.

Over the course of his career, though, Van Slyke has proven to be a solid platoon hitter against lefties with a career OPS of .845 and OPS+ of 124. Additionally, as mentioned previously, his defense in both corner outfield spots has been excellent. Since 2012, Van Slyke has been 16.4 runs above average in UZR, highlighting his defensive value to the Dodgers.

So far in 2016, Van Slyke has struggled at the plate, having gone only 2-for-16 with a double and one RBI.

In the end, it’s by no means controversial as to which player the management crew decides to choose for the present juncture, as both Van Slyke and Segedin have options on their respective contracts to utilize, in essence making each player almost interchangeable. Segedin very well may have the upper-hand at the moment if only for the reason of his hot bat at Oklahoma City, yet each player’s performance over the next two days could surely be the deciding factor.

(FOLLOW DENNIS ON TWITTER: @THINKBLUEPC)
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