Dodgers: Unselfishness Among Players is Key for the Last Weeks
By Megan Garcia
The Dodgers have experienced highs and lows throughout the 140 plus games played this season. While the team has struggled and succeeded as a whole, individual players are showing unselfishness as they switch roles.
With just 10 games left to play in the regular season, and a tight divisional race for the NL West, the Dodgers’ front office is relying on players’ unselfishness to get across the finish line.
In the latest move to the roster, starting pitcher Alex Wood was moved to the bullpen so Ross Stripling could take his spot in the rotation.
At one point this season, both Wood and Stripling were in the rotation at the same time. One coming off an All-Star season, the other heading to his first. Stripling moved to the bullpen after opposing hitters were slugging higher and getting on base more frequently, chasing him out of the game sooner.
Accompanying him to the bullpen was Kenta Maeda. In 20 games from March 31st to August 10th, Maeda struck out 130 hitters with a 3.80 ERA. After a stellar 2017 post-season as a bullpen reliever, and in the midst of the best season in his career, Maeda had to take one for the team.
When Kenley Jansen hit the disabled-list for an irregular heartbeat, the Dodgers needed Stripling and Maeda to anchor a weak bullpen. But pitching arms aren’t the only ones being unselfish. When rosters expanded Sept. 1, the Dodgers added seven position players to their roster, coming from the disabled-list, trade and triple-A.
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Platoons are a permanent fixture in the last month of the season for the Dodgers. Hot hitters like Max Muncy, Joc Pederson and Chris Taylor have to sit out games, so David Freese, Chase Utley and Enrique Hernandez can be in the lineup.
Despite a lineup with Manny Machado, Muncy is the best slugger on the team. Leading the club in home runs and slugging percentage, Muncy has seen significantly less plate appearances. In July , Muncy had 113 plate appearances; While from August to the middle of September, Muncy had 111 at-bats .
The Dodgers’ top prospect Alex Verdugo showed a few glimpses throughout the season of what the future holds for him. Now in his second September call-up, Verdugo is used as a pinch-hitter or defensive substitute late in the game.
The Dodgers next-man-up philosophy has been tested numerous times this season. But aiming for another world series run is more than who’s up next; it’s about who is willing to sit out a game, so another player can contribute to the team.