On the 142nd day, Freddie Freeman finally rests. The Dodgers first baseman is not the Dodgers first baseman in Wednesday’s series finale against the Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Freeman’s first rest of the season comes the day after Los Angeles clinched the National League West.
Freeman started the Dodgers’ first 141 games, the longest team streak to open a season since Eric Karros started all 162 games in 1997. Playing every day is important to Freeman, who since the start of 2018 has played in 680 of a possible 687 games through Tuesday, starting 674.
“When I talked to teams in the offseason, all I asked about was winning, family, and playing every game,” Freeman in August told Mike DiGiovanna and Jack Harris at the Los Angeles Times.
|3B||Muncy (L)||RF||Varsho (L)|
|LF||Gallo (L)||2B||Marte (S)|
|CF||Bellinger (L)||CF||Thomas (L)|
When the Dodgers were in New York to play the Mets, Freeman told Tyler Kepner at the New York Times, “You can be a five-tool player, but if you don’t have the sixth tool of playing every day, what’s the point of the first five tools?”
Fatigue has not been a problem for Freeman, who homered in Tuesday’s division clincher and on the season is hitting .329/.402/.527, a 153 OPS+ with 45 doubles and 20 home runs, leading the majors in doubles, hits (181), and batting average. His lowest OPS of any month this season was .804, in August.
Freeman is one of a quartet of Dodgers veterans getting a day mostly off their feet after the division clincher. Mookie Betts, Trea Turner, and Justin Turner are all sitting, at least to begin Wednesday’s game. Trea Turner started the first 130 games this season before getting a day off on September 2, and since then has a 10-game hitting streak with eight extra-base hits.
The days of fully expanded September rosters are over, so a full lineup turnover isn’t really possible with only 14 active position players, especially when one of them — Gavin Lux — has been out two weeks with a neck issue and isn’t expected to play until this weekend in San Francisco at the earliest. There is no Drew Butera at first base situation, like the Dodgers deployed the day after their last division clinch in Arizona, in 2013.
But with four regulars out, the Dodgers have second baseman Chris Taylor and third baseman Max Muncy batting first and second, with designated hitter Will Smith batting third. Miguel Vargas starts at first base, and Hanser Alberto starts at shortstop.