Now that the Dodgers have advanced to the National League Division Series, they will play a worthy opponent. Let’s be honest, the Brewers had a pretty bad offense. It wasn’t like the Dodgers offense ripped the cover off the ball either as they only scored seven runs in the Wild Card Series. They also only had a total of 12 hits.
That will not work against the Padres. San Diego has a strong offense and will score some runs, even again LA’s aces at the top of the rotation.
So where can the Dodgers look to shake it up and jump-start the offense early against the Friars?
As of now, the biggest weak spot in the lineup is the cleanup hitter: https://t.co/GQrjOt8mQP
— 11 Wins to Glory – Tim Rogers (@SDDodger) October 3, 2020
Max Muncy has struggled all season with it starting out by breaking a finger in “Summer Camp” when an Alex Wood pitch struck his right hand. In the month of September, his slash line was .177/.330/.304 (AVG/OBP/SLG) with only 3 home runs and 7 RBI. For the 60 game season, he slashed .192/.331/.389. He did end up with 12 home runs, 27 RBI and 39 walks with 60 strikeouts for the season.
Clearly, this has been a terrible season that never really got properly started for Muncy. I would suggest that the broken finger has had a huge impact on his season.
Can the Dodgers continue to have such poor production from the cleanup spot?
One huge issue for the Dodgers is that so many of their players have struggled in the postseason. We know that the Dodgers will bat Mookie Betts, Corey Seager and Justin Turner at the top of the order.
Let’s take a look at some possible candidates for the cleanup spot with their 2020 season slashes and their lifetime postseason numbers.
|Player||2020 Slash||Postseason Slash|
Based on their post-season statistics the options do not look good. One fact is that the Padres starting pitching is mostly right-handed. The only exception could be Adrián Morejón, a young left hander who could be an opener and seems to max out at three innings. In general, a good chunk of the innings will be right handers, so the Dodgers will want to stick to a lineup that switches between lefty and righty hitters.
Roberts said Max Muncy will remain in the middle of the lineup.
— Ken Gurnick (@kengurnick) October 4, 2020
Notably, Dave Roberts is saying Max Muncy will still be in the middle of the order. Lately, Cody Bellinger has been hitting sixth so flipping Belli and Muncy might make the most sense. In the first two playoff games Bellinger is two for seven and in the last 16 games of the season he slashed .304/.418/.500. One reason Bellinger has been improved might be NOT being in the cleanup spot. Of the other left handed hitters I just don’t see Joc Pederson and Edwin Rios as viable cleanup options. If they move Muncy down too far in the lineup then they might have too many righty hitters in a row.
The best solution is if Max Muncy can finally find his form again. It has been a tough season for him but we know he has had some memorable playoff moments. I cannot see the Dodgers having too many right handed hitters batting consecutively against the very righty-heavy Padres starting pitching.
It seems like the best alternative is to flip Bellinger and Muncy but I see Dave Roberts giving Muncy a few more opportunities. If someone like Will Smith or A.J. Pollock break out then they could slide up higher. Having a rally killer in the cleanup spot will not be sustainable for winning in the playoffs. The bottom line for the Dodgers is the offense needs to produce much more than it has in the last few postseasons.