Betts at SS lets Peralta, Heyward shine -- as they did vs. Phils

May 2nd, 2023

LOS ANGELES -- When the Dodgers trotted out at shortstop last week, it was mostly a move made out of necessity. was banged up and  had just landed on the injured list. 

Since then, however, Taylor has been fully healthy, and Rojas returned from the 10-day injured list on Monday. Despite this, the Dodgers decided to start Betts at shortstop because it gives the offense a higher ceiling, particularly against right-handed pitching. 

This was evident again as the Dodgers’ offense continued to thrive with Betts manning that infield spot in Monday’s 13-4 win over the Phillies at Dodger Stadium. The Dodgers moved to 4-0 when Betts starts at shortstop, scoring 35 runs in those games.

“I think we already knew who we were, it was just a matter of putting it all into action,” Betts said. “We’ve had some guys hitting and some guys not. Fortunately, we were able to put it all together tonight.”

The Dodgers definitely put it all together on Monday against Taijuan Walker and the Phillies' bullpen. All nine Dodgers starters reached base safely at least once, with eight of the nine reaching base twice. The 15 hits were a season high and the 13 runs matched the high mark so far this season.

The victory secured the Dodgers' first four-game winning streak of the season, as well.

“It was a complete contribution from everyone, from one through nine. It was fun to watch,” said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. “Guys taking walks, Mookie homered late. Some balls that found some outfield grass. Just collectively, really good.” 

With Rojas, Taylor and Betts all healthy, Roberts acknowledged that the starting shortstop will rotate each day. Taylor has been solid defensively and despite his season-long offensive struggles, he gives the Dodgers another option and has hit for power against left-handed pitching.

Rojas, on the other hand, hasn’t been productive at the plate this season but is still the best defender at the position on the roster. But given Rojas’ soft tissue injuries to start the season, the Dodgers will be cautious with the 34-year-old’s workload.

That opens the door for Betts -- who went 3-for-5 with a two-run homer and three RBIs on Monday -- to get more starts at shortstop, helping the Dodgers get their trio of left-handed-hitting outfielders in the lineup against righties.

“It’s going to be interesting how it plays out,” Roberts said before the game. “Mookie has certainly gained my trust. He enjoys it. He’s good at it.” 

Two of those left-hitting outfielders made their presence felt on Monday.

has been a mostly pleasant surprise for the Dodgers to start the season. The veteran outfielder, who revamped his swing over the offseason, hit his fourth homer of the year against the Phillies.

“I appreciate the opportunity,” Heyward said. “A lot of veterans, a lot of guys that can get the job done on the daily. So it’s nice to have the opportunity to be in there and compete and help the team."

, who's had a tough start to his season, gives the Dodgers a plus defender in the outfield. On Monday, Peralta hit one of the four Dodgers homers, a three-run shot in the second inning off Walker. Peralta reached base safely three times against Philadelphia.

Then there’s , who finds himself in the middle of his first slump at the big league level, striking out 14 times over his last six games (including three more times on Monday). During that slump, however, Outman has still been able to get on base and take competitive at-bats, as well as play a solid center field.

If Betts starts in right field against a right-handed pitcher, one of the trio of Heyward, Outman and Peralta would have to start the game on the bench. That would require Rojas or Taylor to start, giving the Dodgers less production offensively.

“That’s kind of the genesis behind even being open to the idea of having Mookie play short,” Roberts said. “It opens up another left-handed bat. And also it’s certainly helpful that Mookie enjoys it.” 

Moving Betts, a six-time Gold Glove Award winner, out of right field isn’t an easy decision for the Dodgers. In fact, when the idea was floated around initially, there was some understandable skepticism. But with the way the roster is currently constructed, the Dodgers are considering having Betts play more shortstop against righties. It’s certainly a move he would welcome with open arms. 

“He looks at the opportunity, the challenge,” Roberts said. “And offensively thus far, when he’s played short, he’s performed.”