With their abundance of depth over recent seasons, the Los Angeles Dodgers have been afforded the luxury of utilizing platoons at many positions. It’s held particularly true in the outfield, which again appears to remain the case for 2018.
As it currently stand, the Dodgers have a natural platoon option in left field with Matt Kemp mainly facing left-handed pitching, and Andrew Toles receiving starts when a right-hander is on the mound.
Kemp has never been a platoon player in his 12-year career, however, and despite his game being on the decline a bit in recent seasons, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said that he does not see Kemp as such. a
“With Matt, you look back and if I recall right, in ’16 he dominated left-handers, and in ’17 it was kind of the other way,” Roberts said during his daily media availability at Camelback Ranch.
“He’s definitely not, nor has he ever been, a platoon guy. It’s just more of the right situation, using him and the other guys on our club the right way. You look at that position, call it 650 plate appearances, now it’s our job to figure out how we divvy those up. With Matt, platoon doesn’t even come into play.”
Roberts is right in that Kemp fared better against lefties in 2016, posting a .954 on-base plus slugging percentage against compared to .761 OPS against righties. Then last season, Kemp produced an .808 OPS vs. righties and .684 OPS vs. lefties.
With just under two weeks until Opening Day, Roberts went on to add that he and his staff still have time to decide how they want to divide the at-bats in left field.
“We’ve talked about it. It’s a constant conversation and debate,” Roberts said. “To see how guys are performing and health, we’ve just got to continue to monitor and keep an eye on things. Right now, fortunately, we do have time.”
While there is still time for Kemp to potentially be traded, with each day that goes by it is looking more and more likely he will be on the Opening Day roster. That possibly could earn him a start in left field against San Francisco Giants ace Madison Bumgarner when the Dodgers open up season on Thursday, March 29.