The Los Angeles Dodgers still technically don't have "starters" for center and left field heading into 2023, which has fans asking a ton of questions. They brought in so many different players and elevated/shifted others to seemingly create a crowded picture.
As the days go by, it's becoming more and more likely that the Dodgers will be ... platooning multiple outfield positions? Left field could feature a combination of David Peralta/Trayce Thompson/Chris Taylor, while center field could see a rotation of Taylor/James Outman/Jason Heyward. It all depends on how Spring Training shakes out.
Unless the Dodgers opt to make semi-drastic roster decisions, we'll at least be seeing Peralta, Thompson, Taylor and Outman on the roster. It's not out of the question that Heyward joins the mix, too. But let's say it's four of those five plus Mookie Betts, which gives the Dodgers five outfielders on the active roster.
With the way the front office operates, it's very easy to see guys being cycled in and out every day or every other day, especially for matchup purposes. For example, Thompson was interviewed at Spring Training last week (LA Times, subscription required) and acknowledged "crushing lefties is the whole reason I got traded here." Only problem is ... he can't hit lefties! He has wild reverse-splits against righties.
Someone like Peralta was specifically brought in to handle right-handed pitching (.294 AVG, .836 OPS for his career) and sit vs lefties (.238 AVG and .663 OPS for career). Then you factor in Taylor being better against lefties (especially the last two years) and Outman naturally being better against righties (since he's left-handed hitter and was exclusively used against right-handers when making his MLB debut) ... and you can see there's an imbalance! What?!
Are the Dodgers really going to platoon 2 outfield spots in 2023?
You have Taylor as the lone bat to neutralize lefty pitching (and Heyward wouldn't help in this situation because he's a left-handed hitter, too), with all of Outman, Thompson and Peralta being superior against righties. While Taylor has almost identical numbers against righties and lefties for his career, the scales have tipped much further toward righties in terms of offensive success over the last few seasons.
So what's the magic solution? Thompson just immediately starts hitting lefties? Even though he's never really done that? Taylor picks it up and evens out his performance against both righties and lefties like he's usually done? Is there someone else that might enter the picture before Opening Day?
Let's face it -- none of the veterans on this outfield depth chart are capable of being everyday starters in the outfield, whether there are offensive, defensive or aging concerns. Only Outman is a preferred option to play a full slate, should he take the necessary developmental steps.
Then again, there's no perfect solution. The Dodgers don't need the perfect pitcher vs batter matchup for spots 1-9. Nonetheless, it does make you wonder why they opted to keep Thompson after promoting Outman and adding Peralta.
Are we sure a roster move isn't coming in the next few weeks?