Among the Los Angeles Dodgers’ biggest weaknesses this season has been a bench that simply isn’t producing with any sort of consistency. While Matt Beaty and Zach McKinstry have thrived in limited opportunities thus far, the likes of Sheldon Neuse, DJ Peters, Luke Raley and Edwin Rios are hitting well below league average.
Each of the aforementioned players have less than a full season of games under their belt, making the unit one of the least experienced in the league. “Experience,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts answered when asked to explain the bench’s early struggles.
“I think you’re seeing Matt Beaty in his third year with experience, being able to handle the role and thrive. We lost a couple guys that got used to that role and performed in that role — the tough role of not being an everyday guy.
“I thought McKinstry was doing a nice job before he went down. That’s kind of what it is. You’ve got to take your lumps while you’re going through it too.”
The Dodgers stockpile depth unlike any organization in baseball and it has been a big part of their success over recent years. L.A.’s previous benches included mainstays Kiké Hernandez and Joc Pederson, but they departed the organization last offseason for bigger roles with other clubs.
“We have guys now on the bench that are thrust into this situation,” Roberts said of the current group. “The bench role is a very difficult role because there’s not regular playing time. So it’s an opportunity for these guys to kind of get their feet wet.
“It’s not something we’ve been used to in past years in having guys that are familiar with that role. They’re doing the best they can.
“I think getting experience is huge, but certainly having Matt Beaty after coming back from the alt. site, to see his performance, has been a big lift for us.”
While the Dodgers’ bench has struggled to this point, reinforcements are on the way. McKinstry is nearing a return from the injured list, and the club recently signed Albert Pujols in addition to acquiring Yoshitomo Tsutsugo from the Tampa Bay Rays.
Roberts: ‘Unfair’ to judge rookies based on bench opportunities
The Dodgers’ current bench consists of several rookies such as Peters, Raley and Keibert Ruiz. Roberts believes their individual career outlooks should not be based on production in limited opportunities.
“Absolutely. I do think it’s unfair,” Roberts said. “These guys are guys that are used to playing every day.
“Now you’re raising the bar on competition and they’re not playing regularly, it’s a different role, so I think this sample — and it’s very small — you just can’t make much of it.
“I’m just happy they’re here, they’re getting used to big league life and seeing how things work. But too small of a sample, certainly.”
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