The Los Angeles Dodgers’ outfield situation has provided the team with the benefit of being able to put out a lineup on any given day that gives the team the best opportunity to succeed against the opposing pitcher. However, that approach has also resulted in a shuffle that may be linked to some of the struggles seen among the group, particularly with Carl Crawford and Andre Ethier.
Yasiel Puig is the only outfielder who has essentially cemented himself in the lineup day in and day out, barring injury. While Don Mattingly has primarily relied on a rotation in center and left field, the total number of starts this season is relatively balanced. Puig leads with 26, Ethier and Kemp are tied with 23, Crawford has made 20, and fifth outfielder, Scott Van Slyke, has started nine games, not including him being penciled in Tuesday’s lineup.
Ethier discussed some of the difficulties that’s come with not knowing if you’re starting with Fox Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi:
Show up that day, ready to play, see if your name’s in the lineup, get ready for that game, and do what you can,” Ethier said Monday, when I asked how he is handling the intermittent at-bats. “Everyone knows the ideal situation, but this is the situation we’re faced with . . . It’s going out there, knowing this is the task we have. If everyone does their job, we’ll be rewarded at the end. That’s the biggest thing.
While it may prove challenging, Ethier again raised the point of wanting to do what’s necessary to win:
I think everyone in this room is old enough, wise enough, to know you don’t get this many opportunities to play with teams this talented, that can make a run.”
The impact of not playing regularly has been of varying degrees for the outfielders. Ethier’s comments echo a sentiment he’s previously expressed and he generally has handled the situation well. Whereas Crawford appears to have been affected more, with Mattingly recently going so far as to state his belief that the left fielder is pressing for playing time.
With the surplus of outfielders, the discussion as to whether or not one should be traded is often held. One benefit is it would likely aid in the players being more aware of their role with the team. However, at the same token, it may leave the Dodgers short on options should any of the five go down to injury. For now, the Dodgers appear content in carrying the five outfielders and protecting against injuries — no matter if it may affect the level of production they receive.
Dodgers Pre Game: Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp, Clayton Kershaw And Yasiel Puig