2018 NLDS: Dave Roberts Won’t Automatically Default To Dodgers Platoon Lineup With Sean Newcomb Now Starting Game 3
Austin Barnes, Cody Bellinger, Brian Dozier, Max Muncy, Dodgers dugout
Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Throughout the past two seasons the Los Angeles Dodgers have heavily relied on platoons. While manager Dave Roberts has seemingly faced endless criticism because of it, he’s stuck with the approach and maintained it’s what is best for the team.


Having faced a right-handed starter through each of the first two games in the Nation League Division Series, Roberts has stuck with the same eight position players in both contests. The only change from Game 1 to Game 2 was flipping Yasmani Grandal and Kiké Hernandez in the lineup.

That figures to change Sunday, however, as the Atlanta Braves are now starting Sean Newcomb instead of Kevin Gausman. Newcomb memorably came within one strike of throwing a no-hitter against the Dodgers at SunTrust Park in July.

Although his club is now set to face a southpaw, Roberts indicated he won’t automatically pencil a lineup that swings the pendulum in the opposite direction in terms of platoons. “There might be a little bit of a tweak or two because he pitched a couple days ago, don’t know how long it’s going to go,” Roberts said.

“They’ve got Teheran and Gausman in the ‘pen. You just kind of never want to expose yourself to a complete line change. So something like that. We’re not completely set on how we’re going to go about it.”

Newcomb threw just 25 pitches across two scoreless innings out of the bullpen in Game 1. All but one of his 31 games this season were a start. No matter how the Dodgers ultimately construct their lineup, Roberts is confident in the overall group.

The Dodgers have improved against left-handed pitching despite Manny Machado and Justin Turner essentially being their only everyday players. Though, Grandal did begin to receive increased opportunities against left-handed starters down the stretch of the season.

Kiké Hernandez also hit his way into more of a regular role, albeit factoring in at different positions.

“Does that mean he’s going to start every game this series? Maybe, maybe not,” Roberts said of Hernandez. “But this is the first time I see that he has a legitimate case to be an every-day player, yeah.”

Heading into Game 3, Austin Barnes, Brian Dozier, Matt Kemp and Chris Taylor are the only Dodgers position players who have yet to log a plate appearance in the NLDS.

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