With just under two weeks remaining in the regular season, there are final pushes and jockeying for postseason positioning taking place across the league. Postseason play also means returning to 25-man active rosters one month after playing with expanded rosters, which spurs a debate in it of itself.
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly has utilized the surplus of players at his disposal, basing his lineups and pinch-hit situations on matchups with the opposing pitcher. While it’s a practice Mattingly deployed all season, particularly with Andre Ethier, who rarely faced a left-hander, Mattingly has been more aggressive the strategy this month.
“It’s not so much too old school. You like guys knowing their roles. Platoon guys kind of know their roles,” said Mattingly in response to some of the criticism he’s faced over a flexible lineup. Such is the case with Justin Ruggiano and Scott Van Slyke, who see at-bats against left-handed pitching.
“Even though it’s a little bit of a different lineup sometimes left and right, it’s a normal lineup because everybody knows they’re playing. They know that role,” Mattingly said. Lending to some of the platooning is an injury suffered to Yasiel Puig. He presumably would be the lineup on a daily basis had he not strained his hamstring.
Mattingly acknowledged as much. “We definitely would like to be playing with a full boat, as far as complemented players,” he said. “Having all our guys out there, being healthy and some type of rhythm. Hopefully swinging the bat well and us playing well.”
Additionally, the ability to mix and match is a testament to Dodgers’ front office succeeding in taking a stagnant roster and remaking it to a versatile one. With that comes finding playing time for a Kiké Hernandez as he seemingly found success no matter which position he played.
Needless to say, the majority of the platooning has taken place in the outfield. Although it’s drawn plenty of criticism, Mattingly said recently he’s pleased with how the situation has unfolded.