LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said Will Smith will be the starting catcher in Wednesday’s winner-take-all Game 5 of the National League Division Series against the Nationals at Dodger Stadium, but Roberts was non-committal about the starting status of second baseman Gavin Lux or left fielder Matt Beaty.
Roberts started all three rookies in Game 4, the first time the Dodgers had started three rookie position players in a postseason game since Game 5 of the 2015 NLDS. The current trio went a combined 1-for-8 with three strikeouts and three walks against the Nats.
Smith became the regular catcher for starting pitcher Walker Buehler, so his presence in the lineup was assumed, even though backup catcher Russell Martin drove in four runs in the Dodgers’ 10-4 win in Game 3. Smith is 1-for-9 with four strikeouts and three walks.
Beaty took over left field in Game 4 for A.J. Pollock, who is 0-for-12 with 10 strikeouts and one walk, and Roberts hinted that Pollock would be back on the bench.
Smith and Beaty had two of the three hits that Game 5 starter Stephen Strasburg allowed in Game 2.
“I’m still trying to kind of toy with some things, aware of putting runs on the board and run prevention, so I haven’t made that decision yet,” Roberts said. “I’m certainly aware of the way A.J.’s feeling at the plate right now. If he starts or not, I know A.J. will be ready to help us win in whatever capacity.”
All hands on deck?
Roberts reiterated that all pitchers are available for Game 5, although he said he doesn’t see it “as a viable option” for Game 3 starter Hyun-Jin Ryu to pitch on two days’ rest, but Ryu has volunteered his availability.
Roberts said he would like Kershaw to follow Buehler.
“I’m going to have a hard time taking the ball out of Walker’s hand,” Roberts said.
Roberts said one takeaway from his club’s Game 2 loss to Strasburg was a high-percentage usage of secondary pitches. Strasburg struck out 10 in six innings.
“I think he was more than 50 percent secondaries,” Roberts said. “Are you going to continue to do that? Are we going to make adjustments? And I believe with that changeup and curveball usage, he was very sharp with both pitches. When he’s making pitches like that, and on top of the fastball, you know he’s going to be tough on anybody. So, I think it’s for us to hunt a location and be ready to capitalize on mistakes, that’s very important.”