LOS ANGELES — For the first time this season, Dodgers right fielder Mookie Betts isn’t in the starting lineup for Saturday night’s game against the Reds. It’s just a regular off day for Betts, says manager Dave Roberts.
Betts played every inning of the Dodgers first seven games, but to date is just 7-for-31 with two doubles and a walk, hitting .226/.273/.290 with seven strikeouts. Roberts said Betts was going to get a day off either Saturday or Sunday.
“At times I think he’s locked in, and other times I think he’s in between. He just hasn’t hit his stride yet,” Roberts said. “Just giving him a day to kind of reset and just watch a baseball game I think can help.”
Chris Taylor shifts over to right field with Gavin Lux in left field and Max Muncy at second base. That opens up designated hitter for Edwin Ríos, batting fifth against Cincinnati flamethrower Hunter Greene, making his second major league start.
Trea Turner, with his 26-game hitting streak dating back to last season, bats leadoff.
|DH||Naquin (L)||1B||Freeman (L)|
|1B||Votto (L)||2B||Muncy (L)|
|3B||Moustakas (L)||CF||Bellinger (L)|
The Dodgers for the most part have had a very regular lineup this season. Austin Barnes is making his third start in eight games behind the plate on Saturday, but Hanser Alberto has only started once and Ríos is making just his second start. In five of seven games, the nine Dodgers starters played the entire game. They’ve only had two pinch-hit appearances in seven games.
On the pitching side, Craig Kimbrel won’t be available on Saturday after saving Friday’s game but also warming up in the eighth inning before the Dodgers rallied for six runs in Thursday’s win. Roberts said Kimbrel, who had a slow ramp up during spring training, won’t be used yet in back-to-back games.
“If he were to get a few more outings, I think back-to-back in play,” Roberts said. “We haven’t done the up and down with some guys, and the back-to-back we’re still mindful of.”
So far, Blake Treinen is the only Dodgers reliever to pitch on back-to-back days, appearing in the first two games of the season. Outside of starting pitchers used in relief Tyler Anderson and Mitch White, only Brusdar Graterol, Evan Phillips, and David Price have made an appearance longer than one inning. All three pitchers topped out at four outs once, and none pitched the next day.
No Dodgers reliever has pitched more than twice in a four-day span, and only Graterol and Phillips have pitched three times in five days. The Dodgers are carrying 16 pitchers, so that makes sense, but even Roberts expected at least one roster move by now.
“We’ve been able to kind of not lean on guys early, which was our goal,” he said. “I would have taken the over the roster moves up to this point.”
For what it’s worth, Sunday is the first day players who were optioned can be recalled from the minors without replacing someone on the injured list. But so far, it’s been a best-case scenario for the Dodgers, who have allowed only 21 runs in seven games, and more than three only once, last Sunday in Colorado with Julio Urías on the mound. He starts again on Saturday against the Reds, his first home start of the season.