Resolved to not make a long-term commitment to Bryce Harper in free agency over the winter, the Los Angeles Dodgers pivoted and signed A.J. Pollock to a five-year, $60 million contract. His deal includes an opt-out clause after the 2021 season, and a player option for the fifth year.
He was deemed the everyday center fielder but the first season with the Dodgers was marred by elbow surgery, groin trouble and eventually a position change. Pollock had a productive stretch after the All-Star break but the postseason has brought about another skid.
After starting in each of the first three games in the National League Division Series, Pollock was replaced in the lineup by Matt Beaty. “I think No. 1, (Max) Scherzer’s really difficult and has shown to be tough on right-handed hitters,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said of the change.
“So to get Matt Beatty’s bat in there, I thought there’s not a whole lot of downside, he’s had a couple at-bats already in the DS. And with A.J., I think right now he’s struggling with spin. I think that there’s more chase in there than there has been in the second half of the season, for whatever reason — mechanical, maybe a little bit of pressing.
“So I think that to give him a blow, get Matt in there, get as many left-handed bats against Scherzer as possible, I think gives us the best chance to win tonight.”
Beaty went 1-for-3 and missed an opportunity to break a 1-1 tie after Cody Bellinger led off the fourth inning with a single and stole second base. Beaty got ahead in the count 3-0 and flied out to shallow left field on the fourth pitch he saw from Max Scherzer.
Pollock pinch-hit in the fifth inning and struck out on a slide out of the zone. He’s now 0-for-12 with 10 strikeouts in the NLDS. He holds the unfortunate distinction of having the most strikeouts in any best-of-five postseason series in Dodgers franchise history.
Despite Pollock’s ongoing struggles and the lineup change in Game 4, Roberts made it clear his faith in the veteran outfielder has not wavered.
“I haven’t at all lost confidence in A.J.,” Roberts said, “and know that he’ll figure some things out.”