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Dodgers NLDS: Cody Bellinger to Get All Starts in Centerfield in San Francisco

That’s a big outfield to cover, and LA needs some speed.



The National League Division Series kicks off tonight in the Bay Area. After a long season of the Dodgers chasing the Giants in the NL West, the 2 teams will meet up to decide who will move on to the Championship Series. 

With the Giants being the top seed in the NL, they will shame home-field advantage over the Dodgers for the series. That means if it goes all 5 games, 3 of those will be played at Oracle Park. Los Angeles went 5-4 on the regular season. 

The Dodgers will also have to shift their defensive alignment plans with the daunting size of the outfield at Oracle Park. When asked about the possibility of using Cody Bellinger more in center, Dave Roberts said that he expects him to start every game in San Francisco.

I think that this ballpark, obviously you’ve got to have a guy that can cover the grass out there. I don’t see any reason why he wouldn’t be starting all 3 games in centerfield. 

Bellinger‘s speed obviously plays up in such a large outfield. But the Dodgers also need to account for AJ Pollock out in left field. Pollock doesn’t seem to be quite 100 percent after a hamstring injury towards the end of the regular season. 

Dodgers Related: MLB Insider Believes LA Handles Giants in NLDS

But the good thing is that things have started to look up for Bellinger lately with the bat. He earned 2 walks and a base hit in the Wild Card win, and he also stole a pair of bases in that game. Over his last 4 combined games, he has gone 3-for-8 and stolen 3 total bases. 

While his bat has not been there in the 2021 season, getting it going at the right time could be just what the Dodgers need. 

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Written by Brook Smith

Brook is the Senior Editor of Dodgers Nation, with several years of experience in sports journalism. He is an avid Dodgers and Lakers fan, and can be spotted fairly often at Dodger Stadium and Staples Center.

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  1. I believe that Belli is a good choice to begin in centerfield. However, if he appears to be struggling at the plate, then Gaven Lux, should be inserted into center field. Gavin is plenty fast enough to cover the enormous ground in centerfield.

    • Gavin ran out of runway late in the season to get anywhere near enough experience. CF in frisco is gigantic – need someone with Gold Glove experience to play there. Gavin may sub for AJ one of these days. and Belli is looking batter at the plate. Go Dodgers!

  2. Agree, Belli starts, if he gets hot, and he’s warming up, look out! What I don’t understand though is why Bueller is going tonight instead of Saturday? Considering days off, shouldn’t Urias be going tonight then Bueller?

    • Yup Belli is heating up. Buehler and Urias each starting with an extra day of rest. Bodes well for winning both games in frisco!!

  3. WTF is wrong with Roberts? CT3 should be starting in center field. Because of him, we made it to the NLDS. Is Roberts drunk or high on something? #firedaveroberts

    • Dodger Boy, show me a manager with a better winning percentage than Roberts please. Oh that’s right, you can’t because there isn’t one!

      • Fan4life….

        Show me a manager who has had this type of roster top to bottom to work with…. position players, pitchers.

        God love you for your love of Roberts! lol

        Either way, let’s go Dodgers!!!!!!

        • Joe Torre late 90’s Yankees and Bobby Cox ‘90’s Braves. Cox went 1-4 in the WS. Torre went 4-2. Casey Stengal’s Yankees too. But these are all over 20+ years ago. Closest recent one would be Bruce Bochy who won 3 with the hated Giants 2010, 2012, and 2014, the last one from the WC.

          • Nope, sorry.

            Top to bottom, no manager has EVER had a loaded roster such as the current LA team.

            What is Roberts’ record in all the All-Star games he has managed? Has he won at least one?

          • Doug, you can debate talent of a roster until the cows come home. Torre only had the most dominant closer the game has ever seen. Mariano Rivera. And how would you like a face a rotation of Maddux, Glavine, Smoltz, and Avery? 1st 3 easy HOFers.

            You can’t be serious about the all-star game management! Really? An absolutely meaningless exhibition game? I’m really disappointed in that remark.

          • Fan4Life….

            We can agree to disagree, all good.

            2 points:

            -My point on the roster, just the starting lineup, the Dodgers have all-stars/former all-stars at every position. What team in history can claim that? Torre had 1 guy in the pen, great. ATL had an awesome starting rotation, great. I reference the overall roster, not portions thereof.

            – You are disappointed in all-star management? Baseball and its’ players are all about pride. The AS game is about pride. <—- This coming from what Jim Fregosi told me. Don't discount the fact that even though it's an exhibition game, all the players want to win, manager be damned. The manager can not control players performance. The manager is the one who can get in the way of a good game or a bad game based upon their in game decisions, again, per Jim (He, Pete Rose and my father we in business together). May Jim RIP. So far, your wizard is 0-3 and counting…..

            God Bless you brother….

      • Dodgerfan4life, I also think CT3 starts in LF because Oracle Park presents a big OF and Pollock is not 100% over that hammy issue. I’m ok with Bellinger in CF in that case and maybe he’s turned the corner. However this Dodger team CANNOT expect to rely on the HR here in that park. They won by the home run on Wednesday but Dodgers better have a different approach at the dish. Again, if there’s a concern in this series is whether Dodgers can score enough to win because defense alone won’t win the game without scoring more than the opponent.

      • Give me a 300 million dollar payroll and all-stars at every position and the best pitching staff in baseball and I could do as good or better than Roberts.

        • Hokey,

          Amen brother!

          Could you imagine Alston or Lasorda with this current roster? Insane!

          I’d say Roberts alone has lost the team 5 games with his managerial mess ups.

    • I will add that I expect to see CT3 starting in LF tonight ahead of Pollock. My biggest fear is that postseason Pollock is showing up again. In the WC game his AB’s were not good. Postseason is a completely different ballgame than the regular season! I will say that until I’m blue in the face. Pollock has an absolutely dismal postseason record. Yes he carried the offense during the regular season but that doesn’t mean didly now!

      • I would also guess that Barnes will catch tonight. The only concern about Smith is he might have been able to prevent a wild pitch now and then because sometimes balls get away from him because he’s not in the right position to block some pitches in the dirt.

        • Paul,

          My biggest fear is Billy McKinney on the active roster. If so, you know ‘the wizard’ will find a way to play him in every game.

        • McKinney is currently at .142 striking out 25% of the time. He should be no where near a playoff roster position…. I’d rather have Zach Mc. Most of the Dodgers starting staff have a better BA than Billy Mc.

          • Doug, ok I’ll agree with you on McKinney. He is a disaster. McKinstry would have been a better choice but apparently he has no experience at first. If Muncy wasn’t out, McKinney isn’t on the roster guaranteed.

        • Hope Barnes catches tonight. Smith looked bad behind the dish as usual, and hitting. Dodgers win that game 1-0 if Barnes caught Mad Max.

    • Thank you William, well put. Bellinger’s struggles at the plate this year are hugely driven by injuries. I saw a documentary on the great Ken Griffey Jr. last night and forgot just how many injuries he had during his years in Cincinnati. A HOF player. Bellinger was the NL MVP in ‘19. He has greatness in his DNA. I predict he will have his postseason moments. Pollock with the wonderful regular season he had this year, has never done a damn thing in the postseason. I hope that changes for him this year. Pollock’s AB’s in the WC game we’re not good. I have CT3 starting in LF for game 1 in my projected lineup.

    • Keep dreaming, he was facing a pitcher that was cut by one of the worst teams the Nationals. The Cardinals picked up McFarland because they were desperate for arms, they did not have a good pitching staff and they got hot facing the Cubs, Pirates, Reds and the Brewers who had a miserable last three weeks.

  4. With the Dodgers talent, in my opinion most current managers in baseball would have a better winning percentage an at least one more World Series win. Managers don’t win games for you but they can sure lose them for you. There are multiple examples of that over the last few years. I am 64 and have always watched and followed the Dodgers except for the period of time when you couldn’t watch them because their games were unavailable because of greed. Lol bottom line Go Dodgers and I truly hope the manager gets it right.

    • Recall the injuries this year to Belli, Seager, Pollock, Turner, Taylor, Mookie and now Muncy. If those guys are healthy all year we win 120 games. Add the fact that Boston and Houston cheated and we have at least on more title, possibly two.

      • Well said John. I’m pretty sure facts would prove that the Dodgers lost more WAR due to injuries than other teams. All teams lose players to injuries during the course of the season, it’s the quality of those players and how many games they miss that needs to be measured. And that is what WAR does.

        • Fan4life….

          Totally agree.

          The Dodgers have been wiped out this year with injuries, much more than other teams. But that is part of the game….

          Thankfully all of us here are rabid Dodger fans who only hope for the best for our beloved team.

          We may disagree on things, but at the end of the day, we all have one common goal.

          History starts tonight as the Giants/Dodgers go at it! Will be a great series!

          Let’s go Dodgers!!!!

          • Doug, Amen brother. I have no problems with differences of opinion. That’s part of the fun of a debate. And as you say, we have a common goal and that is the most important part. Namely, a Dodgers win! Let’s go Dodgers! Is it 6:37 yet? Lol. The suspense is killing me.

          • Well-written, Doug. Despite our differences in opinion, as Dodgers’ fans we definitely come together with one common goal: Dodgers’ winning. Let’s go, Dodgers and beat the Giants!!!!

      • Boston didn’t cheat. Only Alex Cora cheated becuase he was with Houston before he became manager.

        • Dodger Boy, you are correct there. It just seems like Boston cheated because they were flipping unconscious that year. Betts and Co kicked the Dodgers fannies. Part of the problem was absolutely nothing out of Pollock! As much as I like him, and he has been monster this regular season, he has never done anything as a Dodger in the postseason which is unfortunate. Hoping for him that he finally exorcises his postseason demons this year.

      • …add May and Kershaw to that casualty list. Not sure if we get Sherzer and Turner if the Bauer issue doesn’t happen. That said, imagine if we had all of the above….

  5. “Postseason record” is meaningless, because players and circumstances change year to year, plus the number of ABs is too small for a meaningful sample size. Right now, Seager, the Turners, and to some extent Betts are supplying all the offense, and that is likely to remain the case. We’d all like to see Belli come around, but it’s statistically improbable. A big hit here and there, like CT’s, from the rest of the order and we may have a parade in November.

    • Tomblue, I respectfully disagree. There was a reason Reggie Jackson was called Mr. October! The postseason is filled with players who constantly outperform their regular season stats, and vice versa others who constantly underperform those same stats. These are hard cold facts! Some embrace the big lights while others wilt. The Dodgers Butane Buehler has been a tremendous postseason pitcher. With the exception of last year, Kershaw had not been.

  6. Stats can be very misleading at times, it’s not always how many hits you had vs WHEN and in what situations you got them!!!! Along with Pollock’s poor postseason record, in 2018 the Dodgers loser rental Machado didn’t do sh*t either! So glad the Padres over-paid for that clown.

      • Fan4life and Paul,

        The day Manny jogged to 1st base on a grounder was the day he was a ‘goner’. The fans went nuts over that and rightfully so….

        Manny has his contract now, and we are pretty sure over time San Diego will get a full taste of his attitude — FOR MANY A YEAR TO COME!!!! Nice sign, AJ!!!

  7. Somebody needs to score a run in the ATL-MIL series! God forbid this game goes into extra innings then TBS sticks with that game instead of flipping to the SF-LA pre-game/game coverage!

    Maybe Joc P and his pearl necklace will have a PH home run? Help us out Joc!

    • Doug, lol. Joc and his pearls did go deep! And after down 0-2 in the count to boot! Never forget the tomahawk job to right off Butane at the Ravine on a pitch that might have sailed the backstop! Lol

  8. Taylor had the walk off home run that saved the Dodgers season. So of course DR benches him for the entire SF series. Taylor also had a great catch on a sinking line drive in the WC which may have saved the Dodgers as well. The reason the Dodgers are even around to play the Giants or anyone else in the postseason is CT3. But DR wants to play his 165 hitter over CT3. Once again the Dodgers must overcome the opposing team as well as their own manager. I hope they can do it.

    • No way CT3 starts dude. His catch was what inning? Belli was fantastic – highest OBP of all the Dodgers that game. 2 Stolen bases, the last enough to get in the pitcher’s head and leave a hangin slider for CT3 to hit out! 2ndly, CF is HUGE in frisco – lots of ground to cover so Belli’s D is needed there over any other Dodger CF. CT3 is needed to pinch hit and come in to LF to replace AJ. Doc was PERFECT Wednesday – he’ll be that again tonight. Go Dodgers!

      • Hey Joe,

        ‘Doc was PERFECT Wednesday’….

        Please explain taking out Beaty (L handed hitter batting .270) and replacing him with McKinney (L handed hitter batting .142). At the time, a 1-1 tie.

        I’ll wait….

        • Is that all you got? dig deep to try to find anything. I suppose you were disappointed he wasted McKinstry as a pinch hitter too!! lol Recall Beaty hadn’t done anything at the plate. McKinney did no worse, and looked good at first. Late inning replacement on D? Kinda like CT3? Did you enjoy the Dodgers victory? I’m not waiting

  9. Ok, anyone listening knows CT3 is starting in CF and Bellinger is at 1B. But for gosh sakes, start Lux in LF over the biggest postseason bust in Dodger history…AJ Pollock!

  10. Belli is NOT hot. He is a shell of his former self due to injuries. If he does play, he should bat 8th at best. Mr. Automatic Out.

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