In an effort to reignite the Los Angeles Dodgers’ offense, manager Dave Roberts gave the lineup a new look for Friday’s game against the Cincinnati Reds.
One of the most notable changes was moving Chris Taylor to the No. 6 spot after previously serving as the club’s leadoff hitter for all but two games this season. The reasoning behind dropping Taylor in the lineup is to help reverse his fortunes at the plate.
He entered play on Saturday hitting just .230/.298/.416 with nine doubles, three triples, five home runs and 14 RBI. That’s a far cry from Taylor’s elite offensive production during his 2017 breakout season, where he posted an .850 on-base plus slugging percentage with 60 extra-base hits over 568 plate appearances.
On Friday, the 27-year-old collected one hit in four at-bats and struck out in his other three appearances. Roberts pointed to Taylor turning a corner at the plate will be critical for the Dodgers’ success going forward, via Ken Gurnick of MLB.com:
“He’s a big part of our offense,” Roberts said of Taylor. “Wherever he is in the order, he provides a certain energy when he gets on the bases. When he’s in the box, you feel good about it. To get him going is imperative for the club.”
Taking Taylor’s usual spot in the lineup was Chase Utley, who collected one hit in three at-bats. Other lineup adjustments included Yasiel Puig being dropped to the eight-hole.
The adjustments were to no avail, as Matt Harvey dominated the Dodgers in his Reds debut. He tossed four shutout innings and yielded only one baserunner while collecting two strikeouts to boot. Had a Cody Bellinger fly ball not been lost in the lights, Harvey would’ve held the Dodgers without a hit.
After the loss, Roberts preached the importance of the Dodgers needing to create their own spark and to avoid becoming contagious to losing games.