Roberts managing like it's the postseason

Puig, Bellinger sitting vs. left-hander Freeland

September 8th, 2018

DENVER -- Reporters asked about Saturday night's Dodgers lineup, but manager Dave Roberts answered with a bigger-picture view.

"It's not only September. We've taken the mindset that these last 26, 27 games are essentially playoff games," said Roberts. "If I can go into each game thinking it's a postseason game, it's a good mindset for our players; and as you've seen me manage the roster in a game, it sort of mirrors a playoff game. We're afforded that luxury because we have a lot of good players."

That's why, Roberts explained, and were not in the lineup against Rockies left-hander after successful at-bats Friday night against right-hander . The expanded roster provides Roberts with more matchup options than normal, although the Dodgers have relied on matchup lineups since the current front office took over.

"When you don't have the depth we have -- and I would argue that 29 other clubs don't have it -- there is the argument to ride the hot hand," Roberts said. "But over the course of a long and big sample size, each game and each pitcher is different. There's value in lumping it all together in recency, but there's also an even stronger case to be made on the larger sample size. My answer is easy when you have guys that are a better option, to be frank."

Puig (who has two homers off Freeland) and Bellinger (2-for-3 with two doubles vs. Freeland) have struggled against left-handed pitchers this year, Roberts explained, so it made sense to insert Matt Kemp (1-for-8 vs. Freeland) in right field and (3-for-10 with a homer) at first base. But as the game unfolds and Colorado relievers appear, Puig and Bellinger -- as well as and -- are likely to see action.

"I can't appreciate what Matt Kemp feels as an All-Star this year and be relegated to a platoon, and I applaud him," said Roberts. "I can't appreciate to now go to the bullpen for the greater good. I'm very sensitive to , who's going into free agency.

"These are difficult conversations, but it's human for them to feel they're the best option and be disappointed. But there's an overall sacrifice for us that is needed to win a championship and to each guy's credit, they are buying in. This is the only way I feel we have a chance to win."