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Dodgers: What Is the Most Ideal Lineup for LA in the Playoffs?

Breaking down what lineups the Dodgers should use going forward



The Dodgers have once again been one of the deepest teams in baseball this season. They’ve utilized their depth accordingly, and it’s allowed them to endure injuries, tolerate slumps, and be patient with players more than other teams might be able to.

The ability to mix and match players doing the long regular season is a huge benefit, but as the postseason approaches, Dave Roberts and company will have to decide what lineup gives them the best chance to win every game. With more than eight capable position players on any given day, those decisions will be a challenge. Who starts? Who sits? Should the batting order fluctuate?

Below, we break down our ideal Dodgers lineup for the playoffs, both for facing right-handed and left-handed pitching.

Best lineup vs. Right-Handed Pitching (RHP):

  • Betts RF
  • Seager SS
  • Turner, T. 2B
  • Muncy 1B
  • Turner, J. 3B
  • Smith C
  • Pollock LF
  • Lux CF

Unless the Dodgers can overtake the Giants with only a couple of games left, they’ll be hosting the St. Louis Cardinals in the Wild-Card game. The Cards will likely call upon veteran Adam Wainwright to start that game. The 40-year-old right-hander has been excellent this year, going 17-7 with a 3.05 ERA and 1.057 WHIP. In his only start against the Dodgers last month, Wainwright pitched well and got the Win. He allowed only two runs through eight innings before being charged with two more in the ninth and being removed.

This is the lineup that should face Wainwright.

The biggest question in the above lineup was who gets that center field spot. We’re going with Lux here but it wasn’t an easy call, with Chris Taylor and Cody Bellinger being the other options.

Lux gets the nod mainly due to his hot bat since being called back up from his injury and brief stint in OKC. In September, Lux hit .367/.466/.510, with a .976 OPS. Those numbers are a complete turnaround from his first half numbers when he was struggling mightily at the plate. He hit only .231/.413/.358 with a .672 OPS in the first half of the year, but it seems like he’s made some adjustments at the plate, and we could be seeing who the true Gavin Lux is now.

Of course, a month’s worth of plate appearances is still a relatively small sample size, so going with the “hot bat” could be recency bias. But it’s hard not to do that in the postseason, where the entire thing is a small sample size.

One caveat for Lux could be his health. He was shaken up after crashing into the center field fence during Wednesday’s game, and although he appears to have escaped any major injury, it could be something to monitor.

The other reason for going with Lux is the recent struggles of Chris Taylor. After a great first half of the year that earned him an All-Star appearance, Taylor has struggled in the second half, hitting only .225/.284/.426 with a .710 OPS. He was dealing with a neck issue recently that certainly didn’t help him get back to where he needs to be offensively, and it may be an issue that’s still lingering. Whatever the cause, it’s difficult to have the same level of confidence in Taylor if he’s not comfortable at the plate, especially when there are other viable options available.

Another option against RHP could be Cody Bellinger. Of course, the former MVP has been a shell of his former self this year, and his struggles have persisted all year with no signs of sustained improvement. His offensive woes this year have not just been bad, but downright awful. His 47 wRC+ this year is 114 points lower than the 161 wRC+ he put up during his 2019 MVP campaign.

Bellinger returned from the IL this past week and hit a big home run Wednesday night against the Padres, but it seems like it’s really “too little, too late” for Cody. There’s simply not enough time for him to get back on track enough to trust in the starting lineup. He could provide a nice defensive replacement option late in the game but relying on him for 4+ at-bats per game isn’t an ideal scenario with how’s he’s produced.

In years past, A.J Pollock’s starting spot wouldn’t have been guaranteed, especially against RHP. But with the year he’s having, there’s no way to take his bat out of the lineup, regardless of the matchup. And as much as Austin Barnes calls a great game behind the plate, Will Smith should be the primary catcher in the playoffs. His bat is just too valuable.

Best lineup vs. Left-Handed Pitching (LHP):

  • Betts RF
  • Seager SS
  • Turner, T. 2B
  • Muncy 1B
  • Turner 3B
  • Smith C
  • Pollock LF
  • Taylor CF

Looking at the other National League team’s rotations, the Dodgers don’t figure to face too many starting left-handers, with Max Fried and Alex Wood being the most likely candidates. So, we’ll likely see their “right-handed lineup” more often than not. With that said, things can always change, openers could be used, and postseason rotations can always be adjusted.

The only change we’re making for the lineup against lefties is replacing Lux with Taylor. As great as Lux has been recently, he still doesn’t hit LHP very well (.190/.281/.250, .531 OPS this year.) Taylor, on the other hand, has good splits against them this year, posting a .884 OPS. That’s far superior to his .741 mark vs righties this season.

Taylor is also an upgrade defensively from Lux, who just started playing outfield recently. Though he’s done an admirable job so far, Lux is still very new to the position.

Bellinger is not a realistic option against LHP at this point. As bad as he’s been overall this year, he’s been even worse against lefties, hitting a dismal .107 (not a typo) on the year.

The batting order itself shouldn’t need to be adjusted much. Both Corey Seager and Max Muncy have hit LHP very well this year so there’s really no reason to move them up and down the order.

The Dodgers offense has been solid all year, but it has gone into some unexplained slumps at times. Hopefully, they won’t experience one of those streaks in October. Going forward, some stability might help with that. Being able to mix and match players is great, but as the playoffs arrive, it’s time the Dodgers decide on their ‘A’ lineup. What that is remains to be seen, but these are our ideal lineups.

What would your best Dodgers lineup look like for RHP/LHP? Let us know in the comments below!

Written by Brian Robitaille

Originally from Southern California, and currently stationed in Northern Virginia, Brian is a devoted Dodgers fan, and has been since he was a kid. He's an Active Duty member of the U.S Air Force, and has been serving for the last 16 years. While he loves all things sports related, and supports all his teams (Lakers, Steelers, L.A Kings, & USC) his true passion is the Dodgers, and loves writing about the boys in blue.

Comments

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    • C’mon man! At least use Cody as “left guard”! Left to guard the water! He does have one upside: He finally cut that awful hair!

  1. Cody Bellinger is the ONLY player in major league history to hit 2 pennant-winning homers. He should be in there every day. He is a gold glove CF. Period. End of story.

    • He hit those homeruns in completely different years and they really have no impact on what kind of player he is at the moment. His offense is just too bad right now to put him out there when you have Lux and Taylor available as options.

    • Sorry Marc but we can’t have the automatic outs that he has given us all year. It stinks but you have to go with the hot hand and that’s not him.

  2. I guess this makes sense. Since Roberts won’t be able to put any of the marginal ML players hitting below the Mendoza line like he did while the Dodgers still had a chance to overtake the Giants over a month ago. Sorry, but I’m sure he’ll still find a way to kill any chances for another WS ring.

      • That’s his last pitch as a Dodgers. Kershaw won’t be back next year. Dodgers need the cap space to sign a new closer ($15M – $20M), resign Seager ($20M – $25M), looks like they might bring Scherzer back if he wants to stay, that’s another ($25M – $30M), and don’t forget AJ Pollock, if he wants to come back.. Worst of all that Trevor Bauer contract definitely won’t come off next year. Plus saving for Trea Turner next year. So that leaves nothing for Kershaw even if he takes a discount at $25M.

        Kershaw knew it, maybe his agent already tipped him off that his time with the Dodgers is over. If anything, Trevor Bauer blew it for Kershaw and the Dodgers. Had Bauer not gotten into trouble, Dodgers probably wouldn’t need to trade for Scherzer. That salary space could have gone to Kershaw.

        • Mr Hughes, I’m not sure Dodgers can sign Seager because his agent Boras will ask for the sun, moon and stars for him. Personally I’ve seen enough with Trea Turner to believe he is actually a priority to extend over Seager. The last thing that needs to happen however is for Dodgers to lose BOTH Seager and T. Turner to FA by the time the 2023 season gets here.

          • With so much talk of Seager being the MVP candidate, I think Trea Turner should garner some considerations for MVP too. The 50 games we’ve seen Trea Turner as a Dodger, he’s been nothing but awesome. When he hit the grand slam last night, I really thought Dodgers fans at the stadium would give him the “MVP” chant, but they didn’t. Maybe tonight’s the night.

            If Scherzer stays, Trea Turner will likely extend too. I think you’re right, Seager might not stay and Boras will send him to the highest bidder aka Yankees.

          • Trea is back next year under contract! Corey is the big question mark. anyway I hate talking about what happens after the playoffs, while baseball is still being played. Win the WS, and Friedman goes one way. Lose the Wild Card and he goes another – who knows???? Focus like a laser beam on each Dodger game as the boys in blue are, and watch them win it all again this year

        • Dodgers won’t pay $15M-$20M for a new closer. They will have Blake Treinen. They won’t resign Seager as Trea Turner will take over SS and Gavin Lux will move over to 2B. Scherzer will be re-signed. Kenley Jansen and Joe Kelly are off the books this year which will leave Knebel and Treinen as the 8th/9th inning guys. Graterol stays in 7th inning spot. Money saved will go to fill in more spots.

          No more salary needed for Jansen, Kelly…and hate to say this, possibly Kershaw. Also, no long term contract for Bellinger either. Perhaps he comes back on an incentive-laden one year contract.

          • I like a lot of your scenario. I think they might ask Corey to go to 3rd, so Trea can play his best position and Lux plays 2nd. JT is done at 3rd. He can platoon with Max at first. Which means Pujolz is probably not coming back. Must resign Scherzer, and also end the Bauer contract $40M is way too much to eat at this point.

  3. It won’t matter too much about those above lineups because it might be that Roberts will be directed about who is in there and who is not. He is a puppet anyway. But Dodgers won’t get past that WC game if the offense returns to its inconsistency. But in the past 3 games Dodgers scored 27 runs so the may have turned the corner but Wainwright may prove to be a difficult task. The PS boils down to whether the offense shows up or not.

    • Everybody playing in that WC game had better show up (and early) or none of us will have any additional post season games to even to think about. I know that today will likely determine the Division, but it’s not yet over. Maybe….just maybe…the Padres reclaim some pride this afternoon and actually play (spoiler) and the Dodgers beat the Brewers again tonight?

      • B McP, if Giants win today, the NL WEST title is theirs not matter what Dodgers do in these last 2 games. And if that’s the case, look for Roberts to ‘resting at least half of the starting position plays and treat Sunday as a ” spa day”.

  4. Any lineup that excludes Bellinger is the right lineup. And the more Roberts is “directed” to manage the less chance he can mess things up with his “brilliance.”

  5. Yes, if the Giants win today, the Division is theirs…but we won’t know that for a bit. So, on the unlikely chance that the Giants do not win this afternoon, it will matter what the Dodgers do tonight. Until its impossible, I will continue to hope that the Dodgers have a chance. But I will unequivocally say that our Dodgers need to bring everything to that WC game or the Dodgers will have plenty of time to rest.

    • Like I said, it ‘aint over until its over…and now the Giants and their fanbase are officially sweating . Thank you Padres and former Giants’ Mark Melancon. GO DODGERS!!!!

  6. Dodgers bring everything to the table tonight to get Julio hos 20th win. If gnats win today, then all bets are off.

    As for playoff batting order I like most of what Brian wrote. My lineup for RH Pitcher :
    ?Betts RF
    ?Seager SS
    ?Turner, T. 2B
    ?Muncy 1B
    ?Turner, J. 3B
    ?Lux CF
    ?Pollock LF
    ?Barnes C

    Your best defensive catcher, calling games, etc. is required for our great starting pitchers. This is the starting lineup against Wainwright I predict, unless Cody plays CF. Someone should look up splits to see who did best against Wainwright.

    Lefty pitcher lineup is same as Brian’s other than Barnes may still end up 8th catching:
    ?Betts RF
    ?Seager SS
    ?Turner, T. 2B
    ?Muncy 1B
    ?Turner 3B
    ?Smith C
    ?Pollock LF
    ?Taylor CF

  7. These lineups look good to me. Only difference between RHP and LHP is Taylor or Lux in the 8 spot. Makes sense. Bellinger in neither makes a whole lot of sense. The only thing I might change here is dropping Muncy to the 5 spot, and Pollack, JT, or Smith up to the cleanup spot depending on who is the hottest at the time. Pollack bats right around 300 against both RHP and LHP with power. JT always dials it up in the postseason. Smith makes hard contact consistently. And Muncy has been struggling a bit.

    • that alternating lefty/righty hitters is a strength so I think Max stays #4. But you may be right; hard to go wrong here though 🙂

      I’d like to know Dodger splits against Wainwright and solidify where the hitters should be in the order. In any case, yes 1-7 with Barnes 8th is a solid offense, and should do nicely at home!!

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