What happens when your biggest free agent signing of the offseason, A.J. Pollock, is set to come back from the Injured List, and you have another outfielder who just slugged his 20th home run of the season, who is a straight platoon in the outfield?
You find the basher another glove and a new position to play. Last night, Joc Pederson took to an infield position for the first time in his professional career – first. Wouldn’t you know it, the first ball put in play was hit right at him. He looked unorthodox for sure, but he made the play. However, there’s a long way from playing the position and being playoff ready at the position. Using Cody Bellinger’s first baseman’s glove, Pederson took a funny hop batted the ball, and turned it into an unassisted out at first. Bellinger threw his hands in the air in rejoicing.
The very next batter also put it in play, and he had to cover first to receive a throw from shortstop Chris Taylor. Pederson looked awkward and out of place for sure, but got the job done, though it was clear, he has a long way to go before the Los Angeles Dodgers can rest easy when he is at first. The experiment lasted all of an inning, as the San Francisco Giants mounted quite a comeback in the top of the ninth. It got too close for comfort for Dave Roberts, and brought Bellinger in to first, the first time since separating his non-throwing shoulder, and moved Pederson back to the outfield.
It’s going to be an interesting juggling job the team plays with. Pollock is simply too good to be a platoon guy, and you wouldn’t bench your biggest off-season addition. Alex Verdugo has put his recent slump behind him and is back to hitting well, and Pederson just hits bombs off, right-handed hitters. So, what to do? Max Muncy has filled in admirably at second with Taylor moving over to shortstop until Seager returns. Though, how can you platoon Muncy at first with David Freese with the tear Muncy has been on hitting both right and left-handed pitchers?
It does make the most sense to turn that platoon at first into Freese and Pederson. These are issues that come with being such a deep and talented team. There hasn’t been as much moving around as there has been in the past, but when you have a player who is second on the team in long balls, you find a way for him to play more often.
The next 6 weeks leading up to the trade deadline will be fascinating to follow, but so will watching how Dave Roberts and the club juggles Joc’s bat and how big of a circus it will be with him playing first base.