Heading into the season, the Los Angeles Dodgers were believed to have a deep outfield with four players who when healthy, could play every day. After roughly four weeks, it’s become evident the Dodgers have five capable outfielders as Scott Van Slyke has thrown his name into the discussion.
The additional depth has afforded Dodgers manager Don Mattingly to adjust his lineup as he sees fit based on the opponent’s starting pitcher and he’s been able to rest a player who is in need of a day off. Of the group of outfielders, Matt Kemp and Yasiel Puig are the two who tend to see regular playing time regardless of who is on the mound. The trio of Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier and Scott Van Slyke have platooned, which is something Crawford attributes to how baseball is analyzed, via Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times:
With computers and numbers and stuff like that, it’s definitely changed the way lineups are made,” Crawford said.
With Puig taking over in Ethier’s primary position, the left-handed outfielder has experience in being the odd man out and while he told Shaikin everybody would like to play, he understands winning takes precedent:
Everyone wants to go out there and play,” Ethier said. “At the same time, we want to win games and put our best lineup out there.”
Ethier further went on to add the revolving door in the outfield wouldn’t be an issue so long as the Dodgers continue to win. Carrying the extra outfielders on the roster can present its share of challenges, but as the Dodgers experienced last season, health can quickly go by the wayside.
In the event the Dodgers’ outfield doesn’t become ravaged by injury, Mattingly may find himself with a difficult balancing act to work. Through 17 games Mattingly has handled to delicate situation without much issue and the Dodgers have played themselves to a tie atop the NL West standings.
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