Dodgers: Projecting NL Wild Card lineup without Max Muncy

Thomas Carannante
PHOENIX, ARIZONA - SEPTEMBER 24: Max Muncy #13 of the Los Angeles Dodgers looks on prior to the MLB game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on September 24, 2021 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images)
PHOENIX, ARIZONA - SEPTEMBER 24: Max Muncy #13 of the Los Angeles Dodgers looks on prior to the MLB game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on September 24, 2021 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images) /
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Never has a 106-win team in the history of baseball been so disappointed as the Los Angeles Dodgers have to be.

They’re stuck in the NL Wild Card Game because of an unforeseen historic campaign from their chief rivals. They lost their ace for the past decade in Clayton Kershaw because of an elbow issue (not to mention the slow and steady decimation of their starting rotation since May). And in Game 162, in an attempt to maybe force a Game 163 against the San Francisco Giants for the NL West crown (they didn’t), Max Muncy suffered an injury and will be out “at least” through the NLDS.

Great. So they’ll face the hottest team in MLB without their best power hitter, and if they win, they’ll go on to face the best team in the league in a five-game series without him.

The lone silver lining here is that this Dodgers team is littered with All-Stars from top to bottom. No team can truly cope with a loss of this magnitude, but if anyone can overcome the odds, it’s LA.

What should the Dodgers NL Wild Card Game lineup look like without Max Muncy?

So how should manager Dave Roberts formulate Wednesday’s lineup without his premier lefty slugger? Let’s take a stab at it.

  • RF: Mookie Betts
  • SS: Corey Seager
  • 2B: Trea Turner
  • 3B: Justin Turner
  • C: Will Smith
  • 1B: Albert Pujols
  • LF: AJ Pollock
  • CF: Chris Taylor
  • P: Max Scherzer

Albert Pujols came into Sunday’s game to relieve Muncy, so it’s a safe bet that might be the plan here. We saw Pujols play against St. Louis not too long ago and he delivered.

The Dodgers have other options, though. Cody Bellinger can play first. And perhaps Roberts feels that’s a smarter move with Adam Wainwright on the mound. Belli can get his at-bats in against a right-hander and then Roberts can make the switch to Pujols once Cardinals manager Mike Shildt goes to the bullpen.

In any event, take this same exact lineup, swap out Pujols for Bellinger, then move Bellinger down into the seven or eight spot, and those are the two variations we’re likely looking at.

Without a clear-cut first baseman should the Dodgers advance, however, expect Roberts to be altering his lineups based on pitching matchups. Pujols is very much not an everyday player. With Bellinger’s rib injury, who knows how long he’ll be able to last playing multiple days in a row. Could we see Justin Turner at first base? How about Will Smith? They both have very minimal experience with reps at the position, but the Dodgers aren’t flush with options and certainly weren’t expecting to lose their starting guy on the final day of the year.

The way we look at it? Pujols gets the legendary moment against his former team and Bellinger gets enough reps throughout October to redeem himself for a career-worst regular season.

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