LOS ANGELES — The Dodgers lineup for Game 1 of the National League Division Series against the Padres starts with the same top three hitters that fueled the majors’ best offense all season.
Mookie Betts leads off, as he has done in all 138 starts this season and in over 93 percent of his starts since joining the Dodgers. Trea Turner and Freddie Freeman follow.
Betts, Turner, and Freeman have occupied the top three spots of the Dodgers batting order in 135 games this season. The biggest stretch to break that up came in late June when Betts suffered broken ribs after an outfield collision, landing on the injured list. Before that IL stint, the order was Betts, Freeman, then Turner, but once Betts returned, a conversation between the trio and manager Dave Roberts led to a tweak, with Turner hitting second and Freeman third after Betts at the top.
NLDS Game 1 lineups
The results have been excellent:
- Betts, Turner, Freeman starting together: 135 games, 96-39 (.711), 5.46 runs/game
- Betts first, Turner second, Freeman third: 76 games, 58-18 (.763), 5.66 runs/game
- At least one of the trio not starting: 27 games, 15-12 (.556), 4.07 runs/game
“I think it’s the way we work pitchers,” Freeman said Monday about the Dodgers lineup. “Even if you throw five shut-out innings against us, you’re going to be 100 pitches, usually 105 pitches and you’re out, and then you are going to ask four relievers to be on their A-game as well. I think that’s a very tall task to do.”
Padres Game 1 starter Mike Clevinger did not throw many shutout innings against the Dodgers, allowing 14 runs in his three starts against Los Angeles, all in the final two months. Clevinger averaged 84 pitches and 4⅓ innings in those three starts.
Will Smith, the Dodgers’ cleanup hitter, hit home runs off Clevinger in two of those three starts, collecting four hits in seven at-bats.
Justin Turner is the designated hitter for the Dodgers on Tuesday, the position he started at 61 times to lead the team. Eleven of Turner’s last 15 starts in the regular season came at DH, with only four starts at third base, a time that included some missed time with a shin injury.
Tuesday is Turner’s 33rd career Division Series game, most in Dodgers history, and 15th in MLB since the format began in 1995.
Max Muncy starts at third base, a welcome sight after missing all of last year’s postseason with a partial UCL tear in his right elbow. This year, remnants of that injury and a compensating swing adjustment had Muncy hitting just .161/.310/.303 with a 82 wRC+ through July 31. But since then he hit .247/.358/.500 with 12 home runs and a 143 wRC+.
Trayce Thompson, whose 153 wRC+ with the Dodgers trails only Freeman, gets the start in left field, batting eighth.
“It’s just a dynamic lineup one through nine,” Freeman said Monday. “It’s hard to navigate. Hard for the manager to match up against us the way Doc has put it.”
Thompson gets the start against the right-hander over the left-handed Joey Gallo. Chris Taylor, who made the roster but hasn’t played in a game since September 30. Taylor, who logged something close to 10 at-bats in simulated situations in the last few days, is available off the bench.
“What we’ve seen with Trayce, there’s been consistent at-bat quality. I like the defense,” Roberts said Tuesday. “Having Joey on the bench potentially, I like that weapon.”