Dodgers News: Dave Roberts Explains Andrew Toles Decision, Restates Trust In Joe Blanton
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

For the first time in his career Andrew Toles bats leadoff for the Los Angeles Dodgers, as they face elimination against the Chicago Cubs in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series. Manager Dave Roberts essentially swapped Toles with veteran Chase Utley, who bats eighth.

Utley is 0-for-10 with two walks thus far in the NLCS. While Toles, who started in Games 2, 3 and 4, and appeared in every NLCS game, is 5-for-10 with four runs scored, two doubles, two RBI and one walk.

“I thought about it on the flight here to Chicago and slept on it, and you just think about what I feel gives us the best chance to win today,” Roberts said prior to Game 6.

“And you take what Andrew’s done in the postseason through September, the at-bat quality. And I think that also it has to do with the player as far as Chase and talking to him prior and just having him understand my thought and to have him just totally accept and whatever decision I made for the good of the team, obviously played a factor in it.”

For Game 5, Roberts hit Carlos Ruiz for the first time since he was traded to the Dodgers, and dropped Adrian Gonzalez to sixth. The rookie manager thought the shuffling would put Gonzalez in position to drive runners in.

Roberts believes Saturday’s change may also benefit Utley. “I think that also giving Chase a different view from the different part of the lineup might help him get on track a little bit,” he explained.

While the Dodgers hand the ball to Clayton Kershaw, it’s plausible the bullpen — beyond Kenley Jansen — will play a factor in the club forcing a Game 7. Joe Blanton was among the Dodgers’ best relievers throughout the season and NL Division Series, but has struggled against the Cubs.

“I think there might be a little try too hard,” Roberts said of Blanton. “I think that when you’re trying to spin that slider a little too much, your front flies open and it kind of ends up being a little bit of a cement mixer. But with Joe, he’s one of the key guys out of the pen that have got us here, so my confidence in him in any big spot hasn’t wavered.”

Blanton has allowed three home runs, including a grand slam, in just three innings pitched over three NLCS appearances.