LOS ANGELES — After playing his way out of the starting lineup during the regular season, the Dodgers are going to Brian Dozier at second base Tuesday night. The 31-year-old will hit fifth as he makes his first start of the 2018 postseason and just his second over his seven year career.
NLCS Game 4 lineups
Dozier is 0-for-3 as a pinch-hitter in the NLCS and 1-for-5 overall in this year’s playoffs.
As the Dodgers look to get their offense in shape after Monday’s no-show, manager Dave Roberts also kept Yasiel Puig in the lineup. With Dozier and Puig inserted into the lineup against the lefty, Kiké Hernandez moves to center and Matt Kemp will stay on the bench to start.
“I think that in batting practice, in the limited amount of at-bats Dozier has had, I see some good things from his at-bats and swinging at strikes and taking balls,” Roberts said about the move. “I think this is a good opportunity for him tonight.”
“And with Yasiel, he hasn’t had good history versus Gio, but I still believe that Yasiel at home, the defense, we expect him to probably see Gio one time, and I like him in the lineup. I like his energy.”
The choice between Kemp and Puig came down to the Brewers bullpen — everything comes back to the bullpen — and how a late-inning situation might develop.
“With Matt, to be able to use him off the bench in a big spot, I like that, as well,” Roberts added. “There’s some guys in that bullpen with velocity that I think Matt really matches up well with.”
Kemp certainly matched up well with the velocity coming out of Dbacks Archie Bradley earlier this year.
This lineup — the bottom in particular — is going to need to produce if the Dodgers are to win. The group of Dozier, Hernández, Puig, Austin Barnes and David Freese have combined to go 1-for-24 this series.
A team that has relied on the home run at times, has hit only two against Milwaukee. The Dodgers have a total of six extra-base hits this series.
“When home runs aren’t there, we’ve got to find a way to score,” Cody Bellinger said Monday. “Myself included, we’ve got to have better at-bats.”
Not in the lineup to start, Bellinger is 1-for-21 in the postseason thus far, and 1-for-10 in the NLCS.
Hernandez made comments after Monday’s loss about the Dodgers and the fans at Dodger Stadium lacking energy. Some took it as a hit job on the fans in attendance but the super-utility man didn’t mean it that way, even if it sounded that way.
Hernandez clarified Tuesday morning:
“Just a brief conversation, and just from what I understand from Kiké it was taken out of context,” Roberts said about Hernandez and his words. “We all know Kiké is very emotional. He cares about winning and his work in the community and his interaction with the fans is unprecedented, is well documented. So I know he feels we’re all in it together as far as players, coaches, fans.”
“And so I know there was a little bit of a clarification, retraction, whatever it might be. I do know the player. I know the person and I know he cares. And so I know he loves being a Dodger. And, again, his interaction with the fans is top level. So I know he felt bad that it was kind of received that way.”