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The Dodgers Playoff Bench

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For most of the season, the Dodger bench has consisted of just four members:  Juan Pierre, Mark Loretta, Brad Ausmus, and Juan Castro.  The company line throughout the season has been that these are all former starters, veterans who understand their role and provide veteran experience and leadership from the bench.  That's all well and good, when they are producing, and in the early part of the season, they were:

Dodger Reserves, First Half
Player PA BA/OBP/SLG OPS
Pierre 289 .328/.387/.417 .804
Loretta 122 .245/.344/.292 .637
Castro 79 .352/.397/.437 .834
Ausmus 64 .286/.355/.375 .730
Totals 554 .309/.375/.388 .764

Pierre got quite a bit of playing time because of the Manny suspension, but overall (even with Loretta's struggles) that's a pretty solid second tier. 

Since the All-Star break, however, the numbers are way down:
Dodger Reserves, Second Half
Player PA BA/OBP/SLG OPS
Pierre 88 .286/.341/.325 .666
Loretta 66 .183/.242/.200 .442
Ausmus 35 .281/.281/.344 .625
Castro 27 .154/.154/.192 .346
Totals 216 .236/.278/.272 .549

The unfantastic four have been equally inept since the All-Star break against both lefties and righties

Dodger Reserves, Second Half
Split PA BA/OBP/SLG OPS
vs RHP 152 .239/.274/.290 .564
vs LHP 64 .228/.286/.228 .514

The additions of Jim Thome and Ronnie Belliard will help bolster the bench in the playoffs.  I thought for a while that Doug Mientkiewicz was a lock to make the postseason roster, as the lefty pinch hitter, but the acquisition of Jim Thome has made him somewhat redundant.  Similarly, Belliard does everything Loretta does, only better.  I think the Dodgers will go with a six-man bench for the playoffs.  Assuming everyone is healthy, here are the locks:

  • Jim Thome - the big bopper off the bench
  • Juan Pierre - the fourth outfielder; will lead off innings as pinch-hitter when needed
  • Ronnie Belliard - the backup at 2B and 3B, and possibly 1B in a pinch
  • Brad Ausmus - gotta have a backup catcher
  • Juan Castro - nobody else can play shortstop; will likely get zero plate appearances in October

That final bench spot will come down to Mark Loretta and Doug Mientkiewicz.  I don't think the club will actually keep Loretta off the roster, but its something to consider since the fork seems to be firmly lodged in his back.  Loretta is hitting .223/.309/.259 on the season.  Against southpaws, his strength coming into the season, Loretta hasn't been much better, hitting only .244/.373/.293.

Mientkiewicz can't play the field because his injured shoulder won't allow him to throw, so he's limited to pinch hitting only.  However, I believe that's all this roster spot will entail.  With Belliard and/or Castro able to play the field, Loretta's ability to play the field isn't needed.  A postseason bench spot is likely already earmarked for Mark Loretta, but it shouldn't be automatic.