In the Dodgers’ 4-3 win over the Mets on Tuesday night, Dave Roberts was pretty accurate in his assessment: “We scored just enough.”
That’s the nature of one-run wins, an area where the Dodgers haven’t had much success this season. Los Angeles’s 12 one-run wins are the fifth-fewest in baseball. On the flip side, their 11 one-run losses are the fewest in baseball, because their 23 one-run games are also the fewest.
As Confucius or Socrates or someone like that said, “The best way to not lose one-run games is to not play one-run games.” But as Dave Roberts might say, the second-best way is to have Gavin Lux come through in the clutch like he did last night.
Lux came to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs in the third inning after Joey Gallo had been hit by a pitch to tie the game at 1-1, and Lux wasted no time, lining the first pitch he saw from Taijuan Walker into left-field to give the Dodgers a 3-1 lead. In the seventh, he came up again in a tie game, this time with runners on first and third and one out. He lined a full-count pitch up the middle to drive in Freddie Freeman and give the Dodgers a 4-3 lead.
Gavin knows clutch. pic.twitter.com/yaCjQzzjUs
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) August 31, 2022
It was fitting that Freeman scored on that play, as Roberts believes Freeman’s influence has had a lot to do with Lux’s breakout season, according to Bill Plunkett in the Orange County Register.
“I think he’s sort of Freddie Freeman lite,” Roberts said of Lux’s emergence from prospect to fully-formed big-leaguer this season. “He’s really seen firsthand what Freddie does on a daily basis and I think if there’s any one mentee that has kind of gone under Freddie’s wing, it’s Gavin. That’s the preparation each day. Even that last pop-up by Trayce (Thompson), he’s running full bore around third base and that’s stuff that Freddie does.
“The at-bat quality of being able to kind of check down and drive a run in by shortening your swing, it’s what Freddie does. … I know he’s on the right track and his growth has been exponential. He’s going to be big for us.”
We’ve seen a version of this before, when Chase Utley came to Los Angeles and immediately became a mentor for Corey Seager, Kiké Hernandez, and several others. David Freese, Russell Martin, and Albert Pujols have also filled that “aging veteran mentor” role in recent years.
But Freeman is still in the prime of his career, having a typically outstanding Freddie Freeman season, which sets him apart from the others a bit. It’s also notable that Lux has gravitated towards Freeman, when the only thing they have in common at first blush is the “bats left, throws right” thing. But if Lux’s goal is to be an everyday player in the big leagues for a long time, that might be the most important similarity, as Lux’s ability to hit left-handed pitching will largely determine his role going forward.
This season, as Freeman’s “mentee,” Lux is hitting almost as well against lefties as he is against righties, other than extra-base power. There are few better hitters or players to learn from than Freeman, and this mentor-mentee relationship has a lot of years left.
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