Dodgers Team News

Dodgers News: Playoff Outfield Picture is Still Unclear for Dave Roberts

The Dodgers have one sure starting outfielder in the postseason, and his name is Mookie Betts. Beyond that, things are still very much up in the air, as Cody Bellinger, Chris Taylor, Trayce Thompson, and Joey Gallo are battling for playing time in the other two spots.

The problem is, all four of those players are flawed. Even Thompson, who has performed the best of the four overall, has been very bad against lefties, the pitchers he was brought in to mash, and strikes out way too much. His 36.7% strikeout rate is actually one point higher than Taylor’s, and Taylor is in the top 15 (in a bad way) in strikeouts in MLB this year.

Surprisingly, Bellinger has by far the lowest K rate of the four at just 27.7%; Gallo is the highest at 41.7%. Gallo’s issues came to a head on Wednesday night, when he struck out four times and left eight runners on base.

Before Thursday’s game in San Diego, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts was asked if any of the four had set themselves apart as deserving of a starting role. After a looooong pause, he answered:

“They’re all putting in work, but results certainly matter. Obviously, Joey had a rough night. I know he’s competing in there, rough night last night. I think CT is starting to trend a little bit in the right direction. And Trayce is figuring some things out. Cody, I think the at-bat quality has been good for the last week. I think that he’s been good, maybe not getting the results that are reflective of how he’s feeling at the plate.”

Roberts was pressed by a reporter specifically about the strikeouts from those guys at the bottom of the order.

“You know, it’s one of those things where you don’t ever want to just say, ‘Hey, don’t strike out.’ But, when you’re looking at north of 40% strikeout percentage, that just doesn’t play well in the postseason. No one’s trying to strike out, but moving the ball forward is paramount.”

Some fans are clamoring for James Outman, but the strikeout rate in his impressive big-league cup of coffee was extremely high, too, striking out in seven of his 16 plate appearances. His minor-league K rate is better, but it’s still 27.2% in Triple-A, which probably translates to somewhere in the 30s in the MLB postseason.

So there are no easy answers, other than, “Hey, don’t strike out.” And that is much easier said than done.

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Jeff Snider

Jeff was born into a Dodgers family in Southern California and is now raising a Dodgers family of his own in Utah. During his previous career as an executive at a technology company, he began writing about baseball in his spare time. After leaving corporate America in 2014, he started doing it professionally. Jeff wrote and edited for Baseball Essential for years before joining Dodgers Nation. He's also the co-host of the Locked On Dodgers podcast, a daily podcast that brings the smart fan's perspective on our Boys in Blue. Jeff has a degree in English from Brigham Young University. Favorite Player: Clayton Kershaw Favorite Moment: Kirk Gibson's homer will always have a place, but Kershaw's homer on Opening Day 2013 might be the winner.

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