The Dodgers faced right-handed starting pitchers in each of their first two postseason games. In game three tonight the Braves will send a lefty to the mound. Will the Dodgers use their usual platoon lineup?
Throughout the 2018 season, the Dodgers eventually settled in on having two platoon lineups. One lineup against lefties and one lineup against righties. In the first two games of the NLDS the Dodgers have stuck with their right-handed platoon lineup. With the Braves sending southpaw Sean Newcomb to the mound in game three tonight, will the Dodgers stick with their usual platoon lineup?
Dave Roberts mentioned yesterday that he might not use his regular platoon lineup that is used against left-handed pitchers due to the fact that the Braves could pull Newcomb early in the game. The Braves will ride Newcomb as long as he pitches effectively and if he pitches anything like he did July 29th against the Dodgers, he could pitch for a while.
On July 29th the Dodgers were nearly no-hit until Chris Taylor recorded a base hit with two outs in the ninth inning. The Dodgers will look to put together a better game against Newcomb and punch their ticket to another National League Championship Series. Since deploying their platoon lineup against southpaws, the Dodgers have had better success against left-handed pitching.
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Despite ranking 20th in MLB with a .240 average against left-handed pitchers, the Dodgers power numbers are much better against lefties. When it comes to power, the Dodgers rank third in the majors with 67 home runs against southpaw pitching. The Dodgers also have the third highest run total against left-handers. While they don’t hit for a high average, the Dodgers have been able to hit for power and score runs off lefties with their use of the platoon lineup.
The Dodgers acquired David Freese to bolster their lineup against lefties so he will more than likely start even if the Dodgers do not roll out their full platoon lineup. Freese hit .464 against lefties as a member of the Dodgers. He also is known for coming up big in the postseason so he is a must start tonight for the Dodgers.
Freese starting would send Max Muncy to the bench, despite the fact that Muncy has held his own against southpaw pitching this season. Yasiel Puig is another player who will likely see the bench tonight as he has reverse splits and hits right-handers better than left-handers. Joc Pederson will also sit tonight and Matt Kemp would likely play tonight in a corner outfield spot.
The case could be made for the Dodgers to not use a platoon lineup if they don’t anticipate Newcomb being in the game for long. The roster is now back down to 25 players so the Dodgers cannot just waste bench players when a pitching change is made. The Dodgers could however choose to go with what has been working and send out the platoon lineup they use against lefties.