When thinking of the Los Angeles Dodgers group of outfielders, the four names that are most often mentioned are, Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp and Yasiel Puig. Then there’s Scott Van Slyke.
With the Dodgers facing lefties on Sunday and Monday, and Ethier battling a bit of a sore back, Van Slyke got the nod to start in center field in both games. Van Slyke was hitless in the rubber match against the Colorado Rockies, but made up for it in Monday’s win over the Cincinnati Reds.
Van Slyke punished Reds starter Tony Cingrani for two home runs and four RBIs within his first three at-bats of the game. The often forgotten outfielder finished 3-for-3 with the four RBIs and two walks.
While he may not have a set position with the Dodgers, Van Slyke is comfortable with his role, according to ESPN LA’s Mark Saxon:
I know what I’m here for and I don’t mind it. I like it. I’m not going to complain.”
In his third season with the Dodgers, Van Slyke is batting .268 against left-handers and has hit four of his six home runs off them. He’s started 18 games this season, split center, left and first base. Manager Don Mattingly complimented Van Slyke for his contributions this season, via ESPN:
He’s been good for us all year,” manager Don Mattingly said. “This guy’s just kind of slowly showing his value over time. He’s a guy that sneaks up on you. Plays all three outfield spots really well.
Mattingly also added Van Slyke is someone who could do well in a larger role, but given the Dodgers’ roster, that currently isn’t an option. Van Slyke’s comments differ from Carl Crawford, who is nearing a return and expressed his frustration over the uncertainty of where he may now fit it in.
While Crawford’s return may complicate matters for Mattingly with regards to left field, Van Slyke’s play may provide him with the option of platooning Ethier in center, which would allow the Dodgers to continue matching up depending on the opposing starter.
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