Conceivably, the next eight weeks may be an audition of sorts to determine which players the Dodgers carry on their first-round playoff roster.
Yesterday, we discussed the potential returns of Chris Taylor, Enrique Hernandez, David Freese and Jedd Gyorko from injury, but what we didn’t talk about was how the team would make room for everyone in the postseason.
Although the rules will change in 2020, after September 1 of this year, MLB rosters will expand to allow any player on the 40-man to join the team’s active roster for the remainder of the regular season. At this point, the tryouts for the Dodgers’ NLDS roster will kick into high gear.
One player who figures to be in the mix is utility man Matt Beaty.
The fact that he hits from the left side of the plate and he can handle multiple positions defensively certainly boosts his chances of playing in October. And, his clutch offensive performances and late-game heroics this season have shown that he can produce even in the extremely high-intensity situations.
Yet, if everyone has a full bill of health come playoff time, there simply will not be enough room for every player deserving of a spot.
There’s not much sense it debating it now, but there’s a good chance that Taylor, Hernandez and Freese will be playing in the post-season if they’re 100% fit for duty. And, it’s probably safe to say that Tyler White and Kristopher Negron will be out. Even with one less starting pitcher, it still will leave the team in a crunch when it comes to roster selection. Hypothetically, anything can happen over the next eight weeks, but there will definitely be some long debates by management and the coaching staff before the beginning of the postseason.
We mentioned that Beaty hits left-handed, and while the Dodgers definitely need lefty hitters off the bench, they already have a slew of lefty sluggers who are on the field regularly—Cody Bellinger, Max Muncy, Alex Verdugo, Corey Seager and Joc Pederson, thus the need to grab Negron and White.
Among fans, there have already been debates as to who is a better roster option—Pederson or Beaty. Both have near identical OPS numbers, although Pederson’s sample size is much larger. Pederson is certainly stronger in the power department, but what sets Beaty apart from many of his teammates is his ability to hit in the clutch.
In 41 plate appearances with runners in scoring position this season, Beaty has hit .450 (15-for-37) with three long balls, three doubles and a monstrous 23 RBI. Those RISP numbers translate into an impressive 1.193 OPS. What’s more, all three of those homers have come in the 7th or later when the Dodgers were tied, ahead by one, or the tying run at least on deck.
Even his overall numbers aren’t too shabby for a super-utility type of player. Through 146 PA over 53 games, the 26-year-old Georgia native is hitting .291 with five jacks, 13 doubles, 27 RBI and a .804 OPS. Without a doubt, he has definitely made the most of his opportunities. If he was on 80% of the other clubs across the majors, there wouldn’t be a debate about him being on the field everyday—not bad for a player who wasn’t even on the big league radar at the beginning of the season.
If there’s one problem with Beaty, it’s his inability to successfully handle southpaw pitching. His MLB sample size is small, but in 20 AB this year he has just three hits—none for extra bases—and one RBI. Last year at Triple-A OKC, he hit just .192 against opposing left-handed pitchers.
In the end, there will be a multitude of factors that decide which players the Dodgers carry on the postseason rosters. But, in the meantime, Beaty will have an adequate number of chances to further prove that he belongs.