For much of this season the Los Angeles Dodgers have played with a short bench as their active roster carried an extra pitcher in favor of a bat. The balance shifted a bit Friday when the club recalled outfielder Scott Schebler from Triple-A Oklahoma City and optioned reliever Daniel Coulombe to OKC.
In playing with a short bench, Alex Guerrero’s, Kiké Hernandez’s and Justin Turner’s versatility have made things more manageable. While the Dodgers have gone into four extra-innings games this season and played tight contests during witch double switches were made, Don Mattingly hasn’t been forced to go too far outside the box — i.e. using a pitcher to pinch-hit or pinch-run.
When asked Friday if there was a specific pitcher he would select for that duty, Mattingly was resigned to the fact the Dodgers would need to if the situation dictated it. “We would have to be willing to, I guess,” he said.
“But it’s one of those things that’s kind of risk-reward. We’ve had enough injuries with our pitching staff at this point, that even thought you think 99.9 percent of the time nothing is going to happen, if something were to happen you’d kick yourself.”
While acknowledging the risk involved, Mattingly holds an optimistic view of what would transpire should he call on a pitcher to help off the bench. “I always really feel like nothing is going to happen,” he said. “I’ve used Kershw before [pinch run] and people went crazy. Zack always wants to pinch-hit, or feels like he can pinch-hit, and really I can’t argue with him. But, it would be kind of a last straw scenario.”
Greinke has pinch-hit three times in his career, most recently in 2013 when he drew a walk. Overall, he’s 1-for-1 in the three plate appearances with a sacrifice bunt, base hit and the walk. Kershaw has pinch-hit twice in his career (2012 and 2013) and sacrificed both times.