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Dodgers staying patient with Gavin Lux

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“As he plays he’s getting more comfortable,” Dave Roberts said. “That takes time. That’s just the way it is.”

Chicago Cubs v. Los Angeles Dodgers Photo by Daniel Shirey/MLB Photos via Getty Images

The Dodgers won the final three games of their series against the Cubs over the weekend, and provided a microcosm of Gavin Lux’s season.

A third-inning single on Sunday snapped an 0-for-19 stretch for Lux, who has started 36 of 39 games at shortstop since Corey Seager broke a bone in his hand. But he also walked seven times during that stretch.

One of those walks came Friday night to lead off the eighth inning, in a tie game against Ryan Tepera. Lux fell behind 1-2 before drawing the walk, which was followed by a tie-breaking home run from AJ Pollock. As everyone was celebrating Pollock’s home run, manager Dave Roberts made a point to single out Lux for his walk that started the frame.

“The foundational at-bat quality that Gavin took right there, eight pitches to take the walk, to pass the baton is going to make him a considerably better ballplayer,” Roberts said Sunday. “I think that’s what separates guys from good to great.

“I thought against Brothers [Saturday], he didn’t do that. He swung at a ball down below, 3-2. But the more I can encourage him that having good quality at-bats, and the more you do that consistently, the better and consistent ballplayer you’re going to be.”

On Sunday, Lux also walked after falling behind 0-2 against Adbert Alzolay, loading the bases. Three pitches later, Zack McKinstry hit a grand slam.

On the year Lux is hitting .230/.312/.361, a below-average 91 wRC+. His expected numbers, based on batted-ball data from Statcast, are a little better, with a .254 batting average and .411 slugging percentage. He’s also walking more (10.4 percent of the time) and striking out less (23 percent) than he did during his first stints in the majors in 2019-20 (8.6-percent walk rate, 28.5-percent strikeouts).

Against left-handed pitchers, the left-handed Lux has struggled mightily, hitting .136/.228/.198, a 27 wRC+ in 92 plate appearances. When healthy, Lux has started in 12 of the 17 games the Dodgers faced a southpaw starter. For now, especially while Seager is out, the plan is to keep running Lux out there, giving the 23-year-old a chance to turn things around.

“I think he’s too aggressive versus right at times, I think he’s too passive versus left at times. With two strikes, I think he could at times shift the field more left center, which will allow you to stay on balls down below more often,” Roberts said. “But as he plays he’s getting more comfortable. That takes time. That’s just the way it is.”

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