Cody Bellinger doubled and scored on Thursday night against the Cubs, in his sixth game of spring training. But perhaps more noticeable was that Bellinger batted cleanup, where he has been in each of his last four games.
Batting cleanup is nothing new for Bellinger, whose 123 career home runs rank fourth in the majors since his debut in April 2017. He’s hit fourth in 306 of his 469 career regular season starts (65.2 percent), but most recently we saw Bellinger hitting sixth in all 18 postseason games for the Dodgers last year.
Max Muncy, who hit cleanup in all 18 postseason games last year, batted fourth in each of Bellinger’s first two games this spring, after the Dodgers slow played their center fielder after offseason shoulder surgery. But in the last three games they’ve been in the lineup together, Bellinger has hit fourth and Muncy either fifth (twice) or sixth (Thursday night, with catcher Will Smith, a right-handed batter, in between them).
“Both guys are very talented, and you could argue they’re interchangeable. I haven’t ultimately decided where it’s going to land,” manager Dave Roberts said. “But I do like Cody in the four, and I like Max — he’s just very versatile. I don’t think I can make a wrong decision, but I’m just kind of thinking some things through before opening day.”
May sharp again
Dustin May allowed only a run on two singles and a walk in five innings of work, striking out six, while hitting triple digits on numerous pitches.
Keepin' it 100. pic.twitter.com/Gm1WP0WPbA— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) March 26, 2021
“It’s always good to look back and see 100, but you still have to get guys out, so that’s the main priority,” May said. “Tonight was probably my best outing. Body-wise, I was way more in control of how I felt going to home plate. I just felt way more synced up in my delivery, and everything came out right.”
May threw 79 pitches, continuing to stretch out, making a case for the fifth starter spot. The longest outing for Tony Gonsolin so far this spring was 4⅓ innings, though he’s expected to further stretch out in his next outing, a B game either Friday or Saturday. David Price’s longest outing this spring is four innings, and Jimmy Nelson’s longest outing is three innings. Both Price and Nelson have said they are willing to pitch in any role for the Dodgers, and for that matter, so have May and Gonsolin.
“In the next couple days, I think we’re going to talk to a lot of guys, to be quite honest, about how it’s going to play out, roles,” Roberts said. “Up to this point I think we’ve done a very good job of continuing to, specifically [May and Gonsolin] to build their innings up, continue to give us optionality, whatever we need.”
This spring, May has a 2.63 ERA in 13⅔ innings, with five walks and 17 strikeouts, the latter second on the team to Trevor Bauer. May also hasn’t allowed a home run in Cactus League play. His next outing figures to be next week, either in the Freeway Series against the Angels or in a simulated game.
“I’m a huge routine guy. Just being able to stay on the five-day a couple times in a row now, it’s been great. Just being able to feel my body out and get to the spot I was feeling last year at the end of the year and in the playoffs,” May said. “Hopefully I’m getting to stay a starter, but we’re moving forward, and whatever they tell me to do.”