The Los Angeles Dodgers outfield situation has been somewhat of an issue over the past few seasons with too many outfielders for just three spots.
Even though the Dodgers traded away Matt Kemp this past offseason, the Dodgers still had about five starting caliber outfielders in Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier, Joc Pederson, Yasiel Puig and Scott Van Slyke. While Van Slyke has accepted his role seemingly without issue, Ethier was adamant about wanting to start before the year, whether in Los Angeles or elsewhere.
As the year began, Crawford, Pederson and Puig were the starting outfielders, but Puig and Crawford both went down to injury at the same time and Ethier and Van Slyke saw an increased role. Ethier played well enough to earn a starting role even as Crawford was nearing a return. Now Crawford is the odd man out, but manager Don Mattingly is trying to incorporate him into the mix.
According to Ken Gurnick of MLB.com, Crawford will see himself in the starting lineup at least a couple times a week:
I want to try to get him in at least once a series, get him to be part of the mix,” said Mattingly. “We know going forward guys need days here and there.”
Starting Crawford at least once could mean days off for Puig, who has been the primary right fielder since he joined the team in 2013. Mattingly believes it will help the Cuban-born outfielder:
Days off are good for Yasiel honestly,” Mattingly said. “When he gets them — I don’t know if he was used to playing less in Cuba — but his focus seems sharper when he’s getting a day off a week. I don’t think it will affect anybody negatively.”
Mattingly tried the mix-and-match method last season and it didn’t really work out, so it will be interesting to see how that dynamic plays out this season. Although last year he tried it at the start of the year, making it slightly different from the end of the year when players can use days off.
Regardless of who is starting, the Dodgers need production from their outfield if they plan to take home a third straight NL West title.