LOS ANGELES — The Dodgers lineup for Game 2 of the NLDS is the same as Game 1, this time in support Clayton Kershaw on Tuesday night at Dodger Stadium.
That means Will Smith is catching Clayton Kershaw for the 10th time in 23 starts this season. Austin Barnes caught the other 13.
Smith this season actually started fewer games behind the plate (106) than last season (111), but thanks to 24 starts at designated hitter, the Dodgers were able to keep their cleanup hitter in the lineup. Smith batted 578 times in 2022, 77 more plate appearances than last year, setting career highs in hits (132), doubles (26), total bases (256), and runs batted in (87) while hitting .260/.343/.465 with a 127 wRC+.
NLDS Game 2 lineups
|2B||Cronenworth (L)||3B||Muncy (L)|
“I think last year I found a really good routine that works for me. It keeps me as fresh as I can be. I stuck with that this year,” Smith said Wednesday. “Right now my body feels good, feels strong, and ready for some more baseball here in the postseason.”
Smith started all 12 Dodgers playoff games last year, when there was no designated hitter, wanting to keep his bat in the lineup. In 2020, when the National League did use a DH, Smith started 17 of 18 postseason games — 10 behind the plate and seven at DH.
Keeping Smith’s bat in the lineup is paramount, and the Dodgers are more comfortable keeping Gavin Lux and Trayce Thompson in the lineup than, say, starting Barnes behind the plate and having Smith DH, which would likely necessitate Justin Turner at third base and Max Muncy at second.
The built-in off days make it easier for a team to ride one catcher, though it will be interesting to see if either the NLDS or NLCS extends how that is handled. Should the Division Series go the distance, there will be three games in three days to finish off the series. A seven-game NLCS would end with five straight game days.
But for now, with only two days in a row followed by an off day Thursday, Smith stays behind the plate.