LOS ANGELES — The Dodgers’ post-clinch lineup has a few regulars getting days off, and among other things Kyle Farmer getting his first major league start.
Farmer is starting at first base on Saturday against the Giants, his second major league position played along with two innings in reserve at third base. He is primarily a catcher, though hasn’t yet seen time behind the plate in his stints in the big leagues.
“Kyle, you can kind of move him around. He’s played some first, but not a whole lot. He played a lot of third base, and came up as a shortstop before morphing into a catcher,” manager Dave Roberts said. “To get him in the lineup gets Cody [Bellinger] a day off. Ever since he came back from the disabled list, he hasn’t had a scheduled day off. It will be nice to get him off his feet.”
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Bellinger since returning from the disabled list on Aug. 30 started 23 of 24 games, with his only game off the second game of the Sept. 2 doubleheader in San Diego against the Padres.
Justin Turner is also sitting on Saturday, still under the weather and unavailable per Roberts. Turner’s status for a potential Sunday return to the lineup is to be determined.
“He’s trying to get his strength back, and doesn’t feel great,” Roberts said. “The thumb is still point tender.”
In addition to 51 minor league games at catcher this season, Farmer started at every infield position for Triple-A Oklahoma City. That included six games and four starts at first base, where Farmer took extra ground balls and throws before batting practice on Saturday.
Farmer is 4-for-12 (.333) with a double in his first 12 games, all in reserve. If he does end up catching at some point during these final eight games of the regular season, Farmer will be the first Dodger to play first base, third base, and catcher all in the same year since Bill Sudakis in 1971.
Farmer’s versatility could earn him a spot on a potential postseason roster should the Dodgers decide to carry three catchers — freeing up either Austin Barnes or Yasmani Grandal to be used more liberally when not starting — but another rookie is making an October push as well.
Walker Buehler, the club’s first-round pick out of Vanderbilt in 2015, has a 10.13 ERA in his first 5⅓ major league innings, but has impressed with his stuff — averaging 98.22 mph on his four-seam fastball, for instance — and his ability to learn on the fly.
The right-hander struck out three in a scoreless inning on Thursday in Philadelphia. Buehler entered that game down a run in the sixth inning, and earned his first major league win. Roberts said Buehler is still in the mix for a postseason roster spot, and will receive more tests over the final week plus of the regular season.
“He’s shown me that he’s continuing to slow the game down. The stuff really plays — the fastball, the curveball, for the most part the slider,” Roberts said. “I liked his last outing in Philadelphia. I’m going to continue to put him in higher leverage situations and see what we got.”