Dodgers to Use Yet Another Lineup Variation Against Nix, Padres

One day after coming up short against the cellar-dwelling Padres, the Dodgers have decided to employ yet another lineup variation to face 22-year-old righty Jacob Nix in the second game of the series on Saturday night.

The biggest change for Los Angeles is Manny Machado moving to the cleanup spot. Max Muncy, who normally plays first base against southpaws and hits fourth or fifth, assumes Machado’s spot in the three-hole.

Two other new looks for the Dodgers occur as right fielder Yasiel Puig hits out of the sixth hole, while Chris Taylor garners a start at second base and hits eighth.

In the series opener, the Dodgers outhit the Padres 9-8 with primarily their right-handed lineup, but were ultimately defeated, 5-3. Young lefty Eric Lauer went five strong innings for San Diego, giving up just one earned run on four hits and two walks.

With the defeat, the Dodgers saw their division lead shorten to 1-1/2 games as the Rockies secured a 6-2 victory against the Diamondbacks.

Rich Hill, who has given up four earned runs in each of his last three starts, will take the mound for the Dodgers. The good news is that the Los Angeles offense has been producing behind Hill, scoring an impressive 49 runs in the last five games he has started.

First pitch is set for 6:10 p.m. Los Angeles time.

Saturday’s lineup vs. righty Nix:

  1. Pederson LF
  2. Turner 3B
  3. Muncy 1B
  4. Machado SS
  5. Bellinger CF
  6. Puig RF
  7. Grandal C
  8. Taylor 2B
  9. Hill P

 

 

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Dodgers Roster: Comparing the 2018 Offense to the 2017 Postseason Version

The Dodgers have to feel pretty good heading into their final regular season series at home. They will be facing the San Diego Padres, against whom they’ve won 12 of the 16 contests they’ve played so far this season.

As Los Angeles is only sitting 2.5 games ahead of the Colorado Rockies for the division lead, they cannot afford to relax and assume the division is theirs. They need to take advantage of the fact they are now playing a team they have performed well against in the past, and continue that dominance.

Yesterday, Dennis took a look at what this year’s postseason rotation might look like in comparison to last year’s, and he concluded that the Boys in Blue are probably better off this year in that regard. So how about the offense?

The Dodgers started their 2017 postseason campaign with this lineup:

  • Chris Taylor CF
  • Corey Seager SS
  • Justin Turner 3B
  • Cody Bellinger 1B
  • Yasiel Puig RF
  • Curtis Granderson LF
  • Yasmani Grandal C
  • Logan Forsythe 2B
  • Clayton Kershaw P

At least a third of that lineup will be different this year, with Granderson and Forsythe no longer playing for the Dodgers and Seager out with his elbow injury.

As it currently stands, and if things don’t change, it appears that the Dodgers would start their 2018 World Series campaign against the Atlanta Braves. They would most likely send right-hander Mike Foltynewicz to the mound. (In fact their rotation is right-hander heavy, but more on that if the series comes to fruition.) With that in mind, we could see a lineup something like this:

  • Joc Pederson LF
  • Justin Turner 3B
  • Manny Machado SS
  • Max Muncy 1B
  • Cody Bellinger CF
  • Brian Dozier 2B
  • Yasmani Grandal C
  • Yasiel Puig RF
  • Clayton Kershaw P

Some might argue for Puig to be higher and Dozier lower in the lineup, but I really like Puig at the bottom. He can do serious damage and no one else has a number eight hitter like him. Dozier is the weak link in the lineup right now, and I’d rather hide him in the six spot to give the lineup more length.

This lineup is stronger and more powerful than last year’s lineup. And, more importantly, the guys left on the bench are more potent, too. In the lineup above, Matt Kemp, Chris Taylor, David Freese and Kiké Hernandez are still available. Even if you switch out Kiké for Dozier in the lineup, that still gives the Dodgers a formidable advantage over the four guys Atlanta might have waiting on their bench.

But the biggest advantage the Dodgers have in their lineup, in addition to the depth, is the thing fans have been complaining most about all season- platooning and lefty/right matchups. If a guy doesn’t start, he knows he’ll most likely get into the game later on as a pinch hitter, and he’ll be ready for that opportunity because they’ve been doing that all season. They know that even if they’re on the bench even if their bat is hot, they’ll still have a good chance to be the hero of the game. Case in point, Puig in Wednesday’s game.

With the caveat of “if they stay hot,” this team will do serious damage offensively. Along with Dennis’s assessment of the starting rotation, this year ‘s Dodgers’ offense might be a little better set up for the playoffs. They also have a lot to prove after a disappointing regular season, and the bitter aftertaste of last year’s playoffs still lingering in their mouths spurring them on.

Dodgers Roster: Several Key Contributors Aiming for Milestones During Stretch Run

The Los Angeles Dodgers are in the midst of a contentious playoff chase that is attracting the attention of the entire baseball world.

They are in a tightly contested battle for the NL West with the Colorado Rockies, and there’s no guarantee that the loser will be rewarded with a consolation prize of one of the wildcard spots.

Heading into Wednesday’s, the Dodgers hold a 1.5 game advantage over the Rockies in the NL West.

While the lead is certainly minuscule, the Dodgers can take comfort in the fact that it’s the biggest lead they’ve held in the division since July 28.

There are just 10 games left in the regular season for the Dodgers, and the NL playoff picture is still amazingly unsettled.

While the top priority is team success, it’s also important to take a moment and really reflect on the impressive individual seasons these Dodgers players have had.

In the final 10 games, there are some important statistics to monitor regarding career-best numbers and in some cases vying for position on league leaderboards.

Manny Machado is concluding what might end up being his most impressive regular season output in an exemplary career. He’s sitting three home runs away from setting a new career high in that category. His previous career best was 37 homers back in 2016. He ranks tied for sixth in the Majors in that category as of September 18, and while he’s not going to catch the leader, he could very well end up in the Top 5.

Machado is also one RBI away from totaling a career-best 97 RBIs this season. He ranks 12th in the Majors in that category as of September 18, and he’s within striking distance of a top 10 finish. He also ranks tied for 5th in the Majors in hits with 175, which as of September 18 is seven behind the leader Freddie Freeman. He has a chance to climb the leaderboard in that category these final 10 games.

Machado’s BA as of September 18 is .298, which is surpassing his previous career best of .294 he registered back in 2016. His OBP as of September 18 is .369, which tops his previous career best of .359 back in 2015. Machado’s SLG as of September 18 is .539, which bests his previous career-high of .533 from 2016.

Machado’s not the only Dodgers hitter who is on the verge of setting career marks in crucial statistics or has the chance to move up league leaderboards.

Max Muncy has been one of the remarkable surprises of this season, is tied for 13th in the Majors with 33 home runs as of September 18. He could certainly finish the season somewhere in the Top 10.

As of September 18, Justin Turner has a career-high OBP by .03 and career-high SLG by .01, and a strong final 10 games could see him maintain those razor-thin margins.

Yasiel Puig needs just one more steal to set a career high in that category. He’s 15 for 20 in stolen base attempts thus far, which is also a career-best steal percentage for him. All of this is made more impressive by the fact his previous 15 steal output was in his 152 game campaign of 2017.

Joc Pederson is three doubles away from setting a new career-high in that category. Pederson’s BA as of September 18 is .251, which surpasses his career best of .246 in 2016. Pederson’s SLG as of September 18 is .518, which surpasses his previous career pinnacle of .495 back in 2016. He could certainly finish the season with personal bests in those categories.

Yasmani Grandal needs six RBIs to set a new career high for himself with 73 RBIs. A couple solid games and that can be achieved.

Chris Taylor needs two doubles to set a new career high with 35, and that’s very possible over the course of these final 10 games.

Beyond the obvious prize of the NL West crown, there are other important accomplishments for these players to chase these last 10 games.

These final 10 games are really poised to be the true test of whether the Dodgers are deserving of an NL playoff spot. It’s going to be quite a finish to this 2018 regular season.

 

Series Preview: Dodgers Face Rockies for 3 Critical Games in Los Angeles

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The Dodgers are in less of a precarious situation than they were a week ago, but they can take control of the their situation and division in their upcoming series with the Colorado Rockies beginning Monday.

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Puig, Dodgers Aim for Strong Weekend Finish Against Cardinals

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(Sports Illustrated photo)

The first part of the weekend couldn’t have gone better for the Dodgers—three straight victories over the Cardinals, coupled with two minor league championships by the Drillers and the Quakes. And to top things off, the Giants handled the Rockies in the first two contests of a three-game weekend set, allowing Los Angeles to reclaim sole possession of first place in the National League West.

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Schedules and Playoff Implications for Dodgers & Other NL Contenders

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The slog of the Dodgers‘ season continues. Los Angeles still sits 1-1/2 games behind the Colorado Rockies in the NL West, but have moved up to one game back in the Wild Card standings.

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Series Preview: Dodgers Prepare for Showdown with Cardinals in St. Louis

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(Getty Images photo)

What was once anticipated to be the most difficult leg of the current road trip has now turned into the most critical. With 16 games remaining on their regular season schedule, the Dodgers begin a four-game series against the Cardinals on Thursday evening, which could conceivably dictate the direction of both clubs in the postseason.

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Underachieving Dodgers Salvage Final Game of Cincinnati Series

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Just when you think the Dodgers are about to push themselves out of the 2018 playoff picture, they surprise you—like winning two out of three in a volatile setting like Denver. Yet on the other hand, right when you think the Boys in Blue have established momentum and might make a run at another division title, they lose two at home to the lowly Mets, then another two on the road to the cellar-dwelling Reds.

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Series Preview: Dodgers Seek Revenge Against Reds in Cincinnati

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Once again it wasn’t necessarily pretty, but the Dodgers got the job done in Colorado, taking two of three from the Rockies and moving within a half-game of the NL West lead.

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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.

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