MILWAUKEE – Max Muncy and his Los Angeles Dodgers teammates were only a few minutes into their charter flight to the National League Championship Series on Thursday afternoon when it was determined Muncy would be on the bench for Games 1 and 2.
As the Dodgers climbed to a cruising altitude, the Milwaukee Brewers revealed that left-handers Gio Gonzalez and Wade Miley will start the games at Miller Park on Friday and Saturday night. And a southpaw starting means Muncy sits – even though he hammered 35 home runs this season, is the Dodgers’ most frequent No. 3 hitter, and blasted a pair of big homers in their Division Series conquest of the Atlanta Braves.
Such is life on the Dodgers, whose extreme platooning practices produce a new lineup nearly every game – yet also breeds a controlled chaos that compels players to ignore their pedigrees and embrace the collective good.
“The biggest thing is throw your ego out the door,” says Enrique Hernandez, who bounces all over the field and up and down the lineup with aplomb, “and just come in here with the same goal as a unit – to win the World Series and it doesn’t matter how that is – who plays, and who doesn’t.”
The Dodgers enter this NLCS on a 13-4 hot streak that saw them overtake the Colorado Rockies for the NL West title and steamroll the Braves in the NLDS. Just two players started every game of that defining stretch: Shortstop Manny Machado and third baseman Justin Turner.
The rest of the lineup comes from a group of 11 players who start and sit based almost entirely on the opposing pitcher, and the constant tweaks create something of a “Where’s Waldo?” effect on the lineup card. Hernandez has batted first, fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth in the past three weeks alone as he and Chris Taylor both started at three positions.
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