Last year the Dodgers got some excellent production from David Freese in the postseason. His triple slash line last October was .364/.423/.773 (AVG/OBP/SLG). He did this during his age 35 season, and proved to benefit from some odd usage leading to regular time off.
Most Postseason Games by Active Players:
1) Yadier Molina – 89
2) Albert Pujols – 77
3) Jon Jay – 67
4) David Freese – 65
Notice anything? pic.twitter.com/i24Xsbw38W
— Gateway Grinders (@gatewaygrinders) October 1, 2019
Surprise, surprise, Freese was good again in 2019. He slashed .315/.403/.599 with 11 home runs only 79 games. He did miss a lot of time with injuries — he’s even expecting to undergo a surgery this off-season — but he’s a veteran that can still produce at a high level. With all that said, this article will explore his playoff usage last season and how he might be used better so that he is available for more key at-bats this postseason.
The Dodgers were heavily into platooning during the 2018 post-season and they were looking to get David Freese as many at bats as they could against left-handers. I was all on board with getting him ABs, but my frustration was him starting a game and being removed as soon as a right-hander was brought in. I didn’t like the fact that he’d already be removed the game when another left-handed pitcher (like a Josh Hader) would come in for the 8th or 9th inning.
One of the top bats on the team is already gone. The game log below shows when he entered and left the game (see inning column).
|DS G1||ATL||W, 6-0||8-9||1|
|DS G3||ATL||L, 5-6||GS-3||1|
|DS G4||ATL||W 6-2||6-6||1|
|CS G1||MIL||L, 5-6||GS-4||1|
|CS G2||MIL||W, 4-3||GS-7||2|
|CS G3||MIL||L, 0-4||8-GF||1|
|CS G4||MIL||W, 2-1||GS-2||1|
|CS G5||MIL||W, 5-2||GS-4||1|
|CS G6||MIL||L, 2-7||GS-5||3|
|WS G1||BOS||L, 4-8||GS-7||3|
|WS G2||BOS||L, 2-4||GS-8||3|
|WS G3||BOS||W, 3-2||14-GF(18)||2|
|WS G4||BOS||L, 6-9||GS-6||3|
|WS G5||BOS||L, 1-5||GS-8||3|
Of 14 games Freese appeared in he was not available in the 8th or 9th inning in 9 of those games.
They lost 5 of them.
The 2019 NLDS – The Patrick Corbin Problem
Patrick Corbin is the likely game 1 starter for the Nationals in the 2019 National League Division Series. If the series extends to 4-5 games then I’d expect to see Corbin a second time.
17 Dodgers have combined to bat .236 in 191 at-bats against Corbin.
David Freese (.313 vs Corbin) is one of only a few hitters that have had much success against Corbin. Of the others that have had some success:
- Justin Turner – suffering with a back issue, but expected to play game 1
- Jedd Gyorko – unlikely to make the playoff roster
- Austin Barnes – extremely unlikely to make the playoff roster
BREAKING: David Freese bats leadoff game 1 for the Dodgers.
Cody takes Corbin yard
— Albert Villanueva (@insuRestaurants) October 2, 2019
One guarantee that can be made is that David Freese will start all playoff games against left-handed starters. The Nationals best left-handed reliever that would appear in the late innings would be Sean Doolittle. I don’t care if Freese starts or comes into the game later, he needs to be available to hit off of Doolittle.
The Problem and Solution
What the pattern has been when David Freese starts a game is like this:
- Freese starts the game against a left-hander and gets a 1-3 at bats.
- A right-handed reliever comes in and Dave Roberts uses Joc Pederson as a pinch hitter.
- In the later part of the game the tough late-inning lefty comes in and Joc is up. They then use whatever right-handed batter that is left, usually the backup catcher.
During the game they’ve wasted Joc and Freese. What is really silly is that while Freese is slashing .287/.385/.515 against left-handed pitching, he’s slashing .361/.435/.738 against righties. There is no good reason to take Freese out of the game (and miss late inning ABs) for a right-hander.
It’s very simple, if David Freese starts against a left-hander, he should not leave the game. If he comes into a game as a pinch-hitter he should stay in the game. The only reason to take him out is if the Dodgers are in the lead and they want a stronger defensive team in the game to close it out.
David Freese is one of the most important Dodger bats they have and his usage needs to be maximized. Blowing through the bench for at bats is not what I agree with at all. Yes, every at bat is important in the playoffs but there are players that need to stay in the game and Freese is one of them.
On a side note, middle inning match ups when the bases are empty, is almost pointless. It limits the late inning options and makes it easier for the opposing manager to get better match ups in the late innings.
This is slightly off topic but if I were in charge, David Freese should start (and stay in) every playoff game. Of course, his health could dictate something else but Freese is one of the best offensive weapons the Dodgers have. They should use Freese as much as possible.