Now that the Dodgers have their first win of the 2018 season under their belts, everyone can breathe a sigh of relief. Before the squad took the field on Saturday evening, many of those who follow the club were racking their respective brains for the likely cause(s) of the early slumber; however, everything was quickly forgotten when the team was able to put a five-spot up on the Giants and earn the victory.
Aside from a brilliant pitching performance from righty Kenta Maeda, one player who came up big on both sides of the ball was rookie utility man Kyle Farmer. Although his start at the hot corner came as a surprise to some fans, skipper Dave Roberts said it was a planned move, as shortstop Corey Seager was scheduled for an early day of rest. This allowed super utility man Enrique Hernandez to slide in at short, while Logan Forsythe floated back into his comfort zone at the keystone.
Of course, this group will change on a daily basis. Since taking over the reigns of the team, if there’s one single stellar quality that Roberts possesses, it’s his ability to use the entire squad while keeping everyone fresh. As there may be a designated group of bench players in theory, those same players normally garner enough starts over the course of the season which allow them to be substantial contributors.
Initially, many fans believed that a four-man bench crew would limit the squad’s flexibility, but the amount of versatility on the team seems to be far greater than just about any team in baseball. Aside from Seager, Matt Kemp, and maybe Yasiel Puig, every other position player on the 25-man roster can handle multiple spots on the field with ease. Over the past few seasons, this undoubtedly has emerged as one of the club’s primary strengths, especially when a regular player becomes injured.
With the return of Justin Turner sometime in the near future, it will be interesting to see how the club plans to make room on the roster, especially if there aren’t any subsequent injuries between now and then. One possibility is for the team to simply shift back to a seven-man bullpen, or demote one of the position players in favor of JT. It could be Farmer who falls victim to the roster crunch at some point in the season, or it could be one of the extra outfielders, since so many other players have the ability to provide cover.
After a very slow start last year, Utley appears to be in an early groove at the dish, as he is tied for the team lead in hits. Pederson hasn’t had many chances, but he should be seeing some significant time in left field over the next few days. And as long as Farmer’s around, it frees up Roberts to use Grandal and Austin Barnes at will, as there won’t be the need to have an emergency catcher stashed away on the pine all game long. Additionally, considering the amount of looks that everyone’s anticipated to receive, it also allows for open competitions for primary playing time at a handful of spots.
Either way, no matter which position players make up the bench crew on any given day, they’re certainly very capable as a unit compared to many other clubs across the league. And thanks to the masterful management techniques from Roberts and his staff, those same players promise to remain formidable contributors to the club throughout the entire regular season.