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Matchup-Based Lineups Failing to Provide Dodgers with Offensive Charge

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(Mandatory Credit: Joe Comporeale/USA TODAY Sports)

We’ve been talking about it a lot lately, and it seems to gain momentum in the critical games, especially when they’re played in the thin air of Coors Field. Whomever is writing out the lineup card for the Dodgers is sticking to their guns, though, despite the club failing to deliver at times when they need to win the most.

I guess the good thing is that everybody appears to be getting their fair share of rest days. However, all the rest in the world won’t do any good if the club is sitting at home in October. The feeling is that the Dodgers will need to win the West in order to punch a ticket to the postseason, because the Cardinals and Brewers appear to have a stronghold on both Wild Card spots. Yet, with each passing game, Los Angeles fans are still seeing different lineups, many of which seem to be a little extra-unique and creative.

Apparently, skipper Dave Roberts feels confident that the strategy the club is taking is for the best. And he sincerely believes that each lineup card he writes out is the most effective option against the opposition his squad is facing on a given day. He even explained that most of his players understand the team’s logic when it comes to lineup construction, particularly when a specific player is relegated to the bench when they’re swinging the bat especially well.

“These are difficult conversations, but it’s human for them to feel they’re the best option and be disappointed,” Roberts stated before Saturday’s contest. “But there’s an overall sacrifice for us that is needed to win a championship and to each guy’s credit, they are buying in. This is the only way I feel we have a chance to win.”

Whatever the logic is, it doesn’t seems to be based on player matchups as much as it does handedness. Yesterday, Ken Gurnick of MLB.com pointed out that Yasiel Puig (reverse-split extraordinaire) had two career long balls of Rockies’ starter Kyle Freeland and that Cody Bellinger was a career 2-for-3 off the lefty with two doubles. But, to begin the game, management still decided to keep Puig and Bellinger on the bench in favor of a right-handed hitting duo of Matt Kemp and David Freese, who haven’t had much success at all against Freeland.

Of course, it’s easy to look back after the game and make claims that the strategies are not well constructed or thought-out. Yet, with all their offensive firepower, the Dodgers have scored just 35 runs over their past 10 games. And the scary thing about that is in one of those games, the team put up 11 runs against the Mets. Take that contest out of the equation and that gives Los Angeles a 2.67 run average over a nine-game stretch. Not impressive in the least for a team who probably has one of the best two-three punches on the entire Senior Circuit. Still, the club runs a different lineup onto the field daily, it seems, most specifically with no guarantees who will be leading off or batting fourth—two of the most critical spots in the order.

But while it’s definitely a little close for comfort, there’s still 20 games remaining on the schedule, which, in theory, is plenty of time to put a productive run together. Regardless, it would be much less nerve-wracking if the Dodgers were able to control their own destiny instead of depending on help from other clubs against their division rivals. And it certainly would be less stressful if the team could find a way to win when they should win, most notably when considering the two defeats against the lowly Mets during the last homestand.

In spite of all that, southpaw Rich Hill will take the mound in Denver on Sunday against Colorado lefty Tyler Anderson, as the Dodgers hope to claim the series victory. First pitch is set for 12:10 p.m. Los Angeles time.

And for all you betting people, it’s probably safe to wager the Dodgers will run out another very creative version of a batting order in hopes of throwing Anderson off his game.

 

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