Dodgers: How will the Dave Roberts Utilize the DH for the Next 3 Games?
By Hector Ponce
The Dodgers are heading to Houston tied at one game apiece in the World Series. Up until last night, Dave Roberts has been pulling all the right strings this postseason. Now he has something new on his plate for this series. He will need to figure out how he will use the DH to his advantage in Houston.
With another bat available to hit in the lineup Roberts will need to think long and hard about who he will utilize in that role. In fact, he may go in different directions every game that is played in Houston. This is a big decision and could dictate how the series could unfold after leaving Houston. I’m trusting Roberts will make the best move for the Dodgers in the next three games.
Roberts can go in many directions with this DH. Let’s start with a very popular one amongst the media and fans at the moment. That is Corey Seager. With his ailing back injury, it makes perfect sense to keep him off the field. The Dodgers have been extra cautious with their young stud and that might be a way to keep him feeling a bit better.
Considering how well Charlie Culberson played at shortstop, this makes playing Seager as the DH much more comfortable for Roberts. Also, even if Culberson doesn’t play in place of Seager at short, they have two very good options in Chris Taylor and Kike Hernandez.
Though Seager as the DH may seem intriguing, it may not be how this is played by the boys in blue. Yes, Seager is still nursing a back injury. But staying off the field isn’t really going to take away the pain. If they really wanted to give him a break, they would just give him a day off instead of using him as a DH. Swinging a bat isn’t exactly ideal for someone who is suffering from a back ailment and not being on the field could cause his back to stiff up.
If not Seager then who. Well, Doc has a plethora of options here. Let’s start with the veteran and fan favorite Andre Ethier. Once a gold glover, age has not benefitted Ethier defensively. He has become somewhat of a defensive liability out in left field, but he still has the silky smooth and swing.
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Many say Ethier is built for the AL and this opportunity for him to display he still has something in the tank. Especially with two right-handed pitchers lined up in games 3 and 4 for the Astros. For Roberts picking Dre may be a safe pick and one that nobody will question using a veteran like Ethier in the World Series.
Now if Roberts wants the offense to have a spark he won’t go with an older veteran. He will go with a young and exciting bat with power. That lightning in a bottle that could spark the offense at any given time with his energy and a big bat. Joc Pederson might not be a bad option.
Pederson broke Verlander’s no-hitter with a solo shot in game two. Roberts has always had a special connection with all his players but that connection with Pederson seems larger than anybody else on the team. Pederson could spark the team in a way the Andre just can’t. Pederson could bring that youthful exuberance and help the Dodgers offense put up runs like he did last night.
Two more options come to mind but they are rather unlikely options. The first of which is Yasmani Grandal. He is another player like Joc who could spark a rally for the team with his power. But the problem with this is the Dodgers would not have a catcher coming off the bench in case of emergency because Kyle Farmer was left off the roster. Though Grandal would be a nice option because he’s a switch hitter, that likely will not happen.
Another option is the other veteran on the squad. The only player on the roster with a World Series ring, Chase Utley. The Silver Fox’s experience and tendency to come up big on the biggest of stages.
Utley has not been very good down the stretch. But like I mentioned he just somehow finds a way to deliver in big spots with the lights bright. This would be pretty tough for Roberts to explain because Utley has played God awful and has not shown any signs of reverting to how he performed early on in the season.
These are the options that Roberts has. Seager is the likely candidate for this job. But his health is a wild card here and he’s been tearing the cover off the ball the first two games so I don’t see Roberts leaving him out of the lineup. If it is not Seager, I believe Roberts can’t go wrong with any of the options. This roster is just so deep and so good. The Dodgers will be in a good spot with the DH at their disposal.