When we first saw Gavin Lux playing left field for the Dodgers, it certainly seemed like a head-scratcher. At the time, it hardly seemed worth the defensively liability to get his bat in the lineup. He had hit just .221 over 85 games in the first 5 months of the season.
Then he started hitting.
After his return from a brief minor league hiatus, the infielder-turned-outfielder hit .367 over 16 starts, providing a much-needed spark that helped a stagnant lineup take off and get hot down the stretch.
Of course, Lux’s outfield play wasn’t without its hiccups. Mixed in among the routine plays and peppering of spectacular plays were the mishaps and plays that caused injuries. One a fractured rib for teammate Cody Bellinger, and one neck stinger for Lux himself.
So on the eve of the all-important wild card game, Dodger manager Dave Roberts was asked about where Gavin fits into the plans and whether he was willing to again put him in the outfield on Wednesday night?
I’m considering it. … but the truth of the matter is, he hasn’t played a whole lot of outfield. And I do think that the incident in left center field took some innings away as far as giving him more chances out there. … I’m certainly considering it. Whether it’s a start, whether it’s to fill in, it’s a possibility. Having his bat available in a spot makes sense to me also. So yeah, Gavin’s in the mix to be in centerfield if I want to put Cody [Bellinger] at first base.
Later he did note that with Max Scherzer being a fly ball pitcher, outfield defense would be a factor in his eventual lineup decision. With that, it makes it harder to imagine Gavin in the outfield, at least in a starting role for an elimination game.
After the injury to Max Muncy on Sunday, the lineup postseason lineup quickly became more clouded. Cody Bellinger could take over at first base for Muncy, but he too has struggled to hit all season long. Matt Beaty hardly even exists in the mind of Dave Roberts, and Albert Pujols absolutely should not start against the right-handed Adam Wainwright of the Cardinals.
Gavin Lux gives the Dodgers their deepest lineup in terms of offensive production at the moment, but if the numbers say Max Scherzer gets more fly balls, it may not be prudent to have him in center. Particularly if he might be possibly more tentative after running into the wall a week ago. The next best center field option behind Bellinger is utility man Chris Taylor. But CT3 has just 7 hits in his last 58 at-bats (.121) in September.