On Saturday, the day before the faced right-hander in a series finale, manager met with .
Roberts had planned to start Gonzalez against Strasburg. He pointed to Gonzalez’s seven hits in 15 at-bats against the pitcher. Gonzalez countered with a different plan. He told Roberts he would prefer to come off the bench as a pinch-hitter, preparing himself for the role he will likely play in October — if he is on the postseason roster.
“If you look forward at what, potentially, he could do for us, to help us off the bench, to give him those opportunities, to see how he can prepare and navigate an at-bat, I think that will give him the best chance to have success,” Roberts said.
The Dodgers may give Gonzalez a couple starts during the final weeks of the season, but they appear to have decided against the idea of shifting Cody Bellinger into the outfield to make room for Gonzalez in the starting lineup.
In his first 17 games after returning Aug. 18 from the disabled list, Gonzalez has hit .203 with a .565 on-base-plus-slugging percentage. Outfielder Andre Ethier, the other veteran left-handed hitter, batted .350 in his first 11 games back this month.
to catch on Monday
A day after speculating about starting Austin Barnes against Strasburg, Roberts elected to start behind the plate. Barnes may usurp Grandal as the starting catcher during the playoffs, but the team is being guarded about their plans. For now, there are only hints at what could come in October.
Barnes did not start Sunday. But he will catch Clayton Kershaw on Monday in Philadelphia. If the Dodgers face Arizona in a division series, Kershaw would likely duel with left-hander Robbie Ray. Barnes is the team’s primary catcher against left-handed pitchers. Barnes has caught only four of Kershaw’s 24 starts this season.
“We don’t really know how it’s going to play out,” Roberts said. “But for us not to explore the different combinations, or options, I think that would irresponsible.”