Let’s Talk About the Dodgers Bench

The Los Angeles Dodgers have been a major force in the National League for the past decade, and vaunted for their depth at all aspects of the game. But sometimes that depth gets really tested, as evidenced by the likes of Luke Raley and Steven Souza Jr being left to be the pieces on the bench for key at bats in the 2021 postseason.

Luke Raley was traded earlier this week to the Tampa Bay Rays for Double-A reliever Tanner Dodson. Souza Jr is now in the Seattle Mariners organization.

On Wednesday, the Dodgers designated Matt Beaty for assignment, another bench piece from the last few seasons. The Dodgers felt there wasn’t much “runway” for Beaty on the current roster, and DFA’d him in hopes he’ll find a full time job on another team.

This spring, the Dodgers have also brought in some new faces to compete for those key bench players, to relieve the regular starters and be able to get hits in key at bats late in the game.

Jake Lamb has been turning some heads so far this spring training. The veteran has dealt with some injuries throughout his career but seems to be healthy. He has hit .357 over 14 at bats so far this spring from the left side of the plate, with one home run. He hasn’t had high averages in his years in the majors, but he has played first, third, and in the outfield, the kind of versatility the Dodgers look for in a player.

Hanser Alberto has yet to see action in spring training, arriving Wednesday in camp after dealing with visa issues. He was added to the 40-man roster, replacing Beaty. Alberto has the third-lowest strikeout percentage, at 10.2%, among Major Leaguers with at least 1,000 plate appearances since 2019. He has a .323 average against fastballs since 2018. The outfielder is one of the few right handed options off the bench.

The Dodgers have also signed Kevin Pillar to a minor league contract with an invite to spring training. The outfielder also could be a right handed option off the bench, should he make the team.

Edwin Rios is poised for a bounce back season. Out most of the 2021 season after having surgery on his right shoulder, Rios has come into camp healthy and ready to contribute. He can provide a lot of power from the left side of the plate, as well as spell Justin Turner at third and Freddie Freeman at first. Although very small sample size, he has an OPS of 1.125 so far this spring, is batting .500 and has yet to strike out. Rios is the definition of the three true outcomes of an at bat, if you follow that line of thought – lots of strikeouts, but also takes his walks, and can hit a lot of bombs.

Gavin Lux seemingly will start the season on the bench, as Max Muncy will be sliding over the second with the addition of first baseman Freddie Freeman. However, he is determined to work his way into the lineup as much as possible. Dennis covered more of Lux here.

Chris Taylor will also be available off the bench from time to time, but is expected to be in the lineup most days, spelling one player or another. With the versatility of this team, there could be any one of the regular starters that might be on the bench on any given game, also.

With the introduction of the designated hitter into the National League this season, the Dodgers will have plenty of opportunities to keep whoever has the hottest bat in the lineup, although we know manager Dave Roberts has a propensity for scheduled off days regardless of the current temp of the bat. But with a lineup this potent, that shouldn’t be an issue for the Dodgers.

48 thoughts on “Let’s Talk About the Dodgers Bench

  1. We found out last season that their bench strength was pretty much non existent.. this year we have Alberto and lux????. Let’s keep moving on from these retreads, and start bringing up the not so young guys on the farm. I mean we don’t have anyone on the farm better than Alberto, pillar or lamb.

    1. There’s plenty of time to be negative when the season starts. Spring training is when you’re supposed to be unrealistically optimistic, Gordon. Follow the plan, please.

      OK, Alberto has been around for a while and played for a few teams, so if you insist on calling him a retread………………well, that’s your prerogative. Keep in mind, however, that he has a lifetime batting average of .333 against lefties, plays three infield positions at an above average clip and only strikes out about 40% as often as CT3.

      As for Lux, he’s still only 24, doesn’t even have 500 at bats in his career, and you’re already calling him a retread? Fine, if you want to say you don’t think he’ll ever amount to anything, but I don’t think you can call him a retread.

      Now, Tyler Anderson, there’s a retread. But you know what? Sometimes a retread works just as well as a new tire at a much less expensive price. And before anyone asks, I’m not expecting that to be the case here but am hoping for the best because it’s still spring training and anything can happen in a baseball season.

      1. Talk about retreads, how about Rich Hill? He is a guy who has played parts of 17 seasons and has 72 wins. Yet when he came to LA, everybody loved the guy. Other than a nasty curve ball, he could barely hit 90 with his heater. Anderson is also a finesse pitcher. Heaney has nasty natural stuff, but has not figured it out yet. I was not down with the Alberto signing, but since he spent most of his career in the other league, I did not really follow his career. He is a contact guy, does not strike out much and has proved himself in the majors so far. One thing he lacks is power.

      2. I’m sure you’ll agree, Bear, that not all guys in the lineup need to hit with power.
        He makes up for it with one of the lowest strikeout percentages in baseball. Not a bad thing to have a couple of guys in the lineup with those kinds of stats. Let the Freemans, Muncys, etc. hit for power.

      3. Totally agree. Every guy in the starting lineup has hit 20 or more in the majors.

      4. Oops. Didn’t call lux a retread. He’s 24 so I would give him this year before I call him a career minor leaguer and then a journeyman .there’s a sequence you know. I was referring to all the signings. Now those are retreads. And I didn’t know about the unrealistically optimistic part jeff. No wonder I hate spring training. Talking about players we’ll never see again.

      5. Always nice to joust with you, Gordon.

        Yes, we’re looking at lots of guys we’ll never see again, but we’re also getting a preview of some future stars.
        I, for one, don’t see how our very own Miggy (Vargas) can miss. But, as I’m sure you’ll point out to me, he has to prove it in the big leagues before we can anoint him.

        Doc just announced that Buehler will start opening day. Too bad, I was hoping for Tyler Anderson. Oh well.

    2. You don’t bring up young kids to have them sit on the bench. They brought in a ton of players last year, all with MLB experience and none of them excelled. The best bats off of the bench last year were Pujols and Beaty. Raley, Reks, McKinney, Souza, none of those guys hit over .200. Frankly no one knows if those kids could even be as good as Pillar, Lamb and Alberto. Alberto is a solid RH hitter. Especially against LHP. Matt Beaty’s career numbers with the Dodgers. 503AB’s, 132H, 18HR’s, .262BA, 79R, 91RBI’s, 7SB, .333OBP, .425Slg, .758OPS, 101OPS+. So in parts of three seasons he got maybe one full season of work. They will most likely try to trade him to another team and not just put him on waivers or release him. He did some good things for the Dodgers. He will always be remembered by me at least for being one of three rookies, Verdugo and Smith the other two, who hit walk off homers in three consecutive games at Dodger stadium to help sweep the Rockies in a 2019 series. Beaty on Friday night, Verdugo on Saturday and Smith with a 3 run walk off shot on Sunday. Which was by the way his second career walk off homer. I saw his first against the Phillies earlier in the year.

      1. Some good points bear. Don’t want 23 year olds sitting on the bench. But there’s always lots if at bats for a player especially with the Dh now. Can’t have 3/4 rookies, especially on this team. But there’s always room for one. I mean look how many games Belli played and he only hit 165 lol. Oops sorry Bear. I shouldn’t do that to you. If he hits 240 this year I’ll never hear the end of it.

      2. Belli is not a good example. Belli was injured in the 5th game of the season. He missed almost two months. He started the season off pretty good. But then he injured himself again. His mechanics were messed up and he never found himself again during the regular season. But he hit in the playoffs when guys like Turner and Seager were floundering around like beached whales. Enough picking on the guy. You break your leg, then strain your hammy and let’s see how good you are.

      3. Would love to have Bellinger win comeback POY award this year.
        When will we see Mookie? Tomorrow? Should be over his stomach virus or what was ailing him.

      4. Right now I have to believe it is all about confidence with Belli. Even with the lousy year with the bat, he never let it affect his defense.

      5. Oops. Didn’t call lux a retread. He’s 24 so I would give him this year before I call him a career minor leaguer and then a journeyman .there’s a sequence you know. I was referring to all the signings. Now those are retreads. And I didn’t know about the unrealistically optimistic part jeff. No wonder I hate spring training. Talking about players we’ll never see again

      6. No you are probably right about Vargas Jeff. My guess would be that we’ll be watching him while hoese and busch are packing groceries at safeway. He’s already passed them and is near 3 years younger. Anybody can hit single A. He hit a bit in triple A. The others can’t get out of double A. And thats the last time I’m going to agree with you.

      7. Yeah, please don’t ever agree with me again. What fun would it be if we didn’t have something to argue about.

        Hoese – I agree, that will probably turn out to be a wasted draft choice although I’d be happy to be proven wrong.

        Busch – this guy can hit and he’s turning himself into a decent fielder.
        You say that Vargas has passed the other two but is three years younger. Those are the facts, but Vargas was signed as an 18 year old and has already played 3 years in the Dodger system. Busch was signed out of college in the 2019 draft. He had about 30 at bats in the minors that year and then missed the entire 2020 season due to Covid’s messing with that season. That means he’s had exactly one year of minor league experience (last year), in which his OPS was .840 and he hit 20 homers at Tulsa.

        If I had to pick between Vargas and Busch, I’d take Vargas, but I expect both of them to be productive major leaguers for a long time.

  2. I saw a comment today that the Dodgers didn’t see a “runway” for Beaty t get alot of chances with the Dodgers this year and DFA’d him so he would get a better chance somewhere else.
    Regarding the bench, you will not have a bunch (probably only 4) of guys who are all star material on a team loaded like the Dodgers. If you can find solid veterans, who have been solid starters in the past who can still play and don’t have expectations to be paid a fortune or get 400-500 at bats IMO you could do a lot worst than guys like Alberto, Lamb and Pillar. And s was said, you don’t bring up top,prospects in April to sit behind all stars and get 50-100 at bats. You continue to develop them at the AA and AAA level.

    1. I know that sometimes teams make “we did it for him” comments when they get rid of a guy, but I really believe Andrew has done that a few times, with players he feels are just not getting a break here. With the DH, there will be far fewer at bats for hit-first pinch hitter types so hopefully Beaty will find his way to a team that can actually use him as a regular or semi-regular. I’ll be interested to see what kind of a player AF will get back for him because I’m assuming we’ll be able to find a trade partner rather than having to release him or put him on waivers.

      1. Probably a single A pitcher with some potential. The Pirates, Marlins, Orioles, Twins, Cubs, A’s could be potential destinations for Beaty.

    2. Lamb has been impressive so far. He hit for power before all the injuries but not a great batting for average guy. Rios has the possibility to be better. I can understand why they would DFA Beaty as he is more a DH. The Dodgers have plenty of guys that can fill that spot. Bench should be better this year but it’s a low bar.

      1. Rios just homered. Hitting.625 so far. Still early but may be locking up his spot.

      2. On the pitching side of things. Gonsolin did great today and after a shaky 4th Anderson did well also with 7 K’s thru 3 innings.

    1. I was in my post golf nap and missed Gonsolin but saw his line and started watching as Anderson came in.

      1. i don’t want to tell you how to live your life, Gary, but from now on nap during your golf game and watch the baseball game. Priorities, man, priorities.

      2. Well it was cart path only today so I walked with a push cart and I was afraid if I laid down in the cart path I would be run over by a cart driven by some old fart older than me and thus miss the whole game.

      3. Yeah, you don’t want to lie down in the cart path. We lose more Dodger fans that way.

    2. After watching both Gonsolin and Anderson throw today, I suddenly felt much more confident in our ability to put up a good rotation this year.

      And then I remembered who the competition was.

      But both guys looked great.

  3. Rios looks fully healthy. He would have been on the team last year if not for injury.

    The bench will be a strength. The bullpen will be a strength. The depth in the minors, including those veterans that don’t make the team but stay with the organization, will be a strength. The starting lineup? Not a hole in it. This team, and this organization, is stacked.

    1. Which lefthanders make the bullpen? Vesia stepped up big time last year. Bruhl did well too. Gonzalez was great in 2020 and looks to bounce back. Ferguson is throwing good. Clevenger had his moments. Then their is Price who I thought was mediocre but obviously very experienced.

  4. I think Rios is going to have a breakout season. If the Dodgers can get him enough at-bats. I was impressed with Gonsolin he was throwing freely and able to throw strikes! I believe Gonsolin is a legitimate MLB pitcher and should fit into the Dodger rotation. Buehler, Urias, Kershaw, Gonsolin and then you have Heaney?, Anderson? Is Bauer back in May or June? What about White, Jackson etc. I am not very concerned about the rotation or Dodger pitching in general. This team is stacked. Look at he the batting line up. Plus the Bench has Taylor, Lux, Rios and looks like Alberto.

    1. Gonsolin looked great today, better than he has in a couple of years. I hope it continues.

      I was pleasantly surprised with Anderson. Excellent control, as advertised.

      As of part way through Anderson’s appearance today the Dodger pitchers had thrown 22 innings this spring, with 25 strike outs and 1 walk. Very impressive.

    2. Well thus rotation is nothing compared to last year and look what happened. We ended up employing half the released pitchers in the league. Nothing on the farm so cross your fingers.
      I would be hugely surprised if Rios makes this team but he can sure Hit minor leaguers. If he can play at this level and hit for power it will be a huge upgrade for the bench. I think his defense has also improved.

      1. I am certain the Dodgers believe in Rios. As far as last year the Dodgers had an unexpected mess of issues all at the same time. No team could ride that out! The other change is the young pitchers and position players that have MLB potential are closer to being ready. Miller has gained velocity and control. Pepiot has learned another pitch, slider, and contrary to his start they have stated his control and mechanics are improved. Gonsolin had a Bellinger type year with injury and then could not get started having mechanical issues. I don’t know what he is doing on the back fields but Fulmer looked great and he had the potential of being a #1 guy at one time, drafted before Buehler. Are the Dodgers and Buehler able to fix his Vandy friend? If the Dodgers can be competitive until the last quarter they may have May and Duffy back to help. I love the way Freeman with men on casually hits the ball the other way to move or score the runner. Hopefully guys like Bellinger and Lux are watching and talking to him.

      2. On Rios read an article that he has had some shoulder issues since College. He was a power generator and hit well with a problematic shoulder. I expect big power numbers from him now that his shoulder is right for the first time in years. He looks to be swinging freely. I wish Bellinger was making better contact he still has an all or nothing swing and is against minor league pitching.

  5. Moronta blew the save and someone inflated Moronta. Guy is huge. Outman was sent to the minor league camp along with some others. Rios looks good. The ball Pollock hit out looked like it wasn’t hit that hard.

    1. Moronta looks like Panda’s big brother. That said, he threw some good innings for the Giants. I hope they give him a couple more outings before they give up on him.

      1. I would be hugely surprised if Rios didn’t make this team. I’ve got Rios, Barnes, Lux/Taylor, and Alberto on the bench. And there a few more qualified players to step in including Lamb, Pillar, McKinstry, Outman, Noda, Burns, Vargas and a handful of others that will be assigned shortly.

        My confidence level is high.

      2. I’d love to know what the terms of Lamb’s and Pillar’s contract are.
        Can the team force them to play at OKC? Can they opt out if they don’t make the opening day roster?
        Both of them must have realized when they signed that their odds of cracking the Dodger roster were fairly slim.

      3. Nope, just optioned to the minor league camp along with a few other players.

  6. I think they keep Vargas down and promote him to AAA. But I am as certain as I have been on few players he has an MLB bat. I think if McKinstry has options he is in OKC.

    1. Yeah, Vargas won’t break with the team. Trading Beaty and adding Lamb, Pillar and Alberto kinda changed bench dynamics. A lot could happen between now and Bear’s birthday. If Pillar and Lamb tear up AAA they are gonna want to play somewhere. McKinstry earned his way on the team last year but the Dodgers have added some stiff competition.

    2. Vargas has already “been sent to the minor league side of camp” so there is absolutely no way he makes the opening day roster. Chances are he starts at OKC but there is the slimmest of odds that he actually starts at Tulsa again and then gets promoted fairly quickly.

      None of that says, however, that he couldn’t have such a bang up year that he isn’t brought to L.A. later in the season if the need arises.

      1. That’s how I see it. Vargas makes his ML debut this year. As does Pepiot and Miller. I think Outman has a shot as well. I’m hoping to see him banging down the door in Oklahoma.

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