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Joc Pederson makes first major league start, Yasiel Puig sits

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

LOS ANGELES -- Welcome to the Joc Pederson era?

On Monday, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly made it sound as if Pederson might play sparingly in September.

"We'll use him to gain some experience during this last month. We'll try to use him any way we can," Mattingly said. "It's not spring training, it's not tryouts. It's a pennant race."

On Tuesday in his second day in the big leagues, Pederson is starting in center field, batting seventh against the Nationals.

Yasiel Puig is in a 2-for-32 slump and hasn't homered since July 31. He sits in favor of Pederson, the third time in the last nine games Puig isn't starting.

Mattingly on Tuesday said defense behind Clayton Kershaw was the primary reason Pederson got the call with Puig getting a day off.

"This guy is our best defensive center fielder," Mattingly said. "He's a true center fielder, and probably the only one we have at this point."

Mattingly said by sitting Puig had more time before the game to work on his hitting, not needing to prepare to play right away.

"It gives him a chance to work. Hopefully it's a situation where we can give him some days here and there. When we saw him having his most success he was patient, getting himself a good pitch to hit," Mattingly said. "Sometimes that's the first pitch, sometimes you have to work your way possibly into another at-bat to get a good pitch.

"I don't think Yas has to prove that he can do it. We all know he can do it. It comes down to the simple fact of what can we do to help him get right. It's not a matter of proving himself, it's a matter of getting him back to doing his thing."

As expected, Adam LaRoche sits for the Nationals, battling a sore back. The right-handed Kevin Frandsen starts at first base against Kershaw.