Dave Roberts has said this before.
Early in August when Trea Turner arrived, it created a four-man logjam (AJ Pollock, Mookie Betts, Chris Tayor and Cody Bellinger) for three spots in the outfield. Bellinger would be the odd man out against left-handed pitching, Roberts said at the time.
Two days later, Betts’ hip problem flared up again, sending him to the injured list for the second time in a month.
Betts returned last Thursday. The Dodgers have faced left-handed starters twice in the five games since then – Colorado’s Kyle Freeland on Friday and Atlanta’s Drew Smyly on Monday. Bellinger was not in the starting lineup either time and Roberts once again said the plan is to sit Bellinger against lefties.
“We have other guys that have performed really well all year long against left-handers,” Roberts said Monday. “I think it gives Cody a day to re-set when left-handers play. There might be times I put him in there. But I think, for the most part, I don’t see him against left-handers at this time. We have other guys, like I said, that have performed.
“It’ll give him time to get off his feet, work on his mechanics, get his body strong and be ready when called upon. This is where we’re at with our ballclub. Yeah – that’s where we’re at.”
Bellinger’s miserable season has been even more miserable when facing left-handed pitching. Through Sunday’s game, the 2019 National League MVP has hit .187 with a .618 OPS and eight of his nine home runs off right-handed pitching. Against lefties, he is 9 for 70 (.129).
The first-place San Francisco Giants had to subtract two pitchers from their starting rotation on the eve of their weekend series against the Dodgers and in the midst of a series against the NL Central-leading Milwaukee Brewers.
Johnny Cueto and Alex Wood were scratched from their scheduled starts Monday and Tuesday against the Brewers. Giants manager Gabe Kapler told reporters that Wood had tested positive for COVID-19 and was symptomatic. Cueto tested negative but was experiencing flu-like symptoms, Kapler said.
Cueto and Wood were lined up to start during the Dodgers’ series in San Francisco next weekend. That is in doubt now.
“Honestly, it’s going to be a great series regardless of who starts the games,” Roberts said. “The intensity of the fans, the importance of the games hasn’t changed.
“However, they manipulate their rotation … I’m expecting to see (Cueto). I’m expecting to see (Logan) Webb and see (Anthony) DeSclafani. Regardless of who they run out there, we’ve still got to beat them.”
Both right-hander Tony Gonsolin and left-hander Clayton Kershaw pitched to hitters in a simulated-game setting on Monday afternoon.
Gonsolin (on the IL with a shoulder injury) pitched two innings to a pair of hitters brought in from Class-A Rancho Cucamonga.
“(Gonsolin) looked really good, real sharp. He was pretty excited afterwards,” Roberts said. “We’ll see how he comes out of it afterwards. Know that a three-inning stint at an affiliate is in his near future.”
Kershaw (on the IL with an elbow injury), meanwhile, threw 15 pitches in one simulated inning after throwing in the bullpen.
“I don’t even want to be cautiously optimistic. I think I’m optimistic,” Roberts said of the three-time Cy Young Award winner. “I’m excited. He’s excited. It was one inning but he let it go.
“We’re all encouraged. The big tell as far as short term is how he feels tomorrow. Assuming he feels good and recovers well then we can bump up the progression.”
That progression would optimistically include a bullpen session in a few days followed by a two-inning sim game “and then I think that where we’re at, who Clayton is, how he’s feeling, there’s a conversation as far as activation.”
The Dodgers’ daily roster shuffle continued Monday with right-hander Evan Phillips activated from the IL. Phillips was claimed on waivers from the Tampa Bay Rays two weeks ago and made one appearance with the Dodgers, allowing one run in 2-1/3 innings against the New York Mets and then going on the IL with a strained quadriceps muscle in his right leg. Right-hander Mitch White was optioned out to make room for Phillips on the roster.
Braves (RHP Charlie Morton, 12-5, 3.60 ERA) at Dodgers (RHP Walker Buehler, 13-2, 2.02 ERA), Tuesday, 7:10 p.m., SportsNet LA, 570 AM
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