Los Angeles Dodgers Dilemma
The Los Angeles Dodgers won their 50th game of the season Wednesday night. They have dominated opposing teams with great pitching, timely hitting, and the ability to grind out baseball games. Yet their greatest asset could be the versatility of their players. Some would make the argument that the Dodgers should not fix it if it isn’t broken. However, manager Dave Roberts is actively looking for ways to make the lineup better. Roberts has made the claim that A.J. Pollock will play when he comes back. This situation would leave Alex Verdugo or Joc Pederson as the odd man out in the outfield. However, Roberts has some creative ideas to keep both players in the lineup.
Joc Pederson to First Base
Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts is seriously considering moving Joc Pederson to first base. Pederson has taken some reps in the infield as a way to sustain his athleticism. However, he has never been a serious candidate to play in the infield. In fact, he has never logged an inning as an infielder in his professional career. With the return of Pollock approaching, the Dodgers are fast tracking Pederson’s development as a first baseman. This would allow Pederson, Pollock, Verdugo, Cody Bellinger, and Max Muncy to stay in the lineup all at once. This makes the Dodgers lineup against right-handed pitchers incredibly difficult to pitch to.
— Dodgers’ Way (@DodgersWayFS) June 19, 2019
Joc Pederson fielding grounders at first base again today. When we’ve asked him about in the past, he’s said it’s to help with hand-eye coordination. pic.twitter.com/1psXAsMCPP
— Dodger Blue (@DodgerBlue1958) May 30, 2019
Why Not Max Muncy
Max Muncy has logged quite a few innings at first base for the Los Angeles Dodgers. However, he has showed incredible amounts of versatility playing second base. This gives the Dodgers lots of options as Enrique Hernandez, who won the second base job out of spring training, has been struggling offensively. Moving Muncy to second base when a right-hander is on the mound allows the Dodgers to have an additional lefty in the lineup.
Why Not Cody Bellinger
Cody Bellinger has logged many innings playing first base. It would be a logical thought to have him play first base instead of Pederson. However, Bellinger dove for a ball on May 6th of this year and dislocated his left shoulder. The Dodgers made the executive decision to keep Bellinger out of the infield to protect his shoulder. This decision has seemed to pay off, as he has made some stellar plays in the outfield. In the grand scheme of things, he can contribute more with his athleticism in the outfield as opposed to at first base.
Plan for Left-Handed Pitching
The Dodgers will have a day-to-day decision on who plays first base depending on who is on the mound. Pederson has shown that he struggles with left-handed pitchers. With this in mind, he will not be in the lineup when southpaws are throwing. This gives Dave Roberts some options. He can start right-handed-hitting David Freese or he can start Max Muncy. Muncy has proved that he can adequately handle left-handed pitching. Enrique Hernandez has also logged some time at first base this year. With this in mind, he can also get into the lineup against left-handed pitching at first base.
A Deep, Talented Roster
It is safe to say that the Dodgers do not have to worry about depth at any position. They have multiple players who can step up and compete day in and day out. This is a huge advantage for Dave Roberts. He can pencil in any of his guys and know that they will produce. It will be interesting to see when Joc Pederson makes his debut at first base. This can truly be a game changer down the stretch to force another lefty in the lineup against right-handed pitchers. Although the Dodgers have great talent, their versatility is proving to be their greatest strength in 2019. A creative move like this could be just what the doctor ordered to get the Dodgers over the hump of being World Series runner-up.
Embed from Getty Images