Reds @ Dodgers – July 28, 2023: Rosario debuts as Los Angeles faces a lefty

Dodger Stadium Sky
Photo: Cody Bashore

After an off day filled with Nolan Arenado trade rumors and the Dodgers forgetting to acquire another player near the bottom of the Major League Baseball’s OAA or OPS rankings, they are back at Dodger Stadium for a three-game series with the Cincinnati Reds and have indeed added Lance Lynn to now cover the need for the worst ERA and HR/FB% in the league.

The Reds, who are 56-48 and 1.5 games back of the Brewers for first in the National League Central, were basically reborn when they last played the Dodgers. Elly De La Cruz debuted against Los Angeles on June 6 when the Reds were 27-33. After taking the series 2-1, thanks to a pair of walk-off victories, the Reds have gone 29-15 while currently holding a Wild Card spot in the NL.

The left-handed Brandon Williamson started one of those games and allowed six runs on eight hits across 5 2/3 innings, but did not take the loss thanks to Noah Syndergarrd’s struggles in what would be his final start for Los Angeles as well as Evan Phillips facing two batters in a 6-6 tie with a single for TJ Hopkins and home run by Will Benson ending it.

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4:05 P.M. Los Angeles
3B De La Cruz (S) RF Betts
CF Friedl (L) 1B Freeman (L)
SS McLain C Smith
RF Fraley (L) DH Martinez
2B India SS Rosario
1B Votto (L) 3B Muncy (L)
LF Steer LF Taylor
C Stephenson CF Hernandez
DH Benson (L) 2B Rojas
P Williamson (L) P Miller (R)

One of these players in the Dodgers lineup has not played second base since 2019 while having a +9 DRS and +2 OAA at short. Another has never played second base, but has a -15 DRS and -15 OAA at short. With both of them in the lineup, as well as Kiké Hernández in center, the Dodgers have Austin Barnes, Jason Heyward, David Peralta and James Outman on the bench.

Amed Rosario and Hernandez were added to the roster for the purpose of facing left-handed pitching, so they aren’t a surprise to see here. But even with Dave Roberts explaining that Rosario is just playing the position he’s most familiar with tonight in order to make the transition to Los Angeles easier, that still didn’t mean Rojas had to stay in the lineup as well. Playing Rojas out of the position he offers the most value at doesn’t really do much good for the lineup, but it sounds like it’s just for a few games.

This group is apparently the plan against left-handed pitching, with Rojas eventually back at short while Rosario and Hernandez move around the field. If that’s the case, this might be good information to know.


Essentially, Rosario is the right-handed hitting outfielder (even if he only has around 170 major league innings out there) the team needed with the ability to also play second (even if he never has) and short (poorly) as Mookie Betts returns to primarily playing the outfield. There’s some risk there, but I guess if it fails they still have Jake Marisnick on the IL to play in the outfield, and it cost them absolutely nothing to test out. Honestly it’s a shame they couldn’t try the experiment sooner in order to make another move if it doesn’t work out.

Yes, Outman’s BABIP against left-handed pitching is insane and likely to regress, but he’s pretty clearly not the worst player option of the five listed above. Hernandez and Rosario actually feel pretty redundant on the roster now if Rojas is still going to play consistently against left-handed pitching and send Outman to the bench with the two other left-handed outfielders.

Essentially it looks like Rosario, Betts, Taylor and Hernandez will fill the outfield and second base against lefties while Rojas remains at short. The positional flexibility of Rosario and Hernandez does mean the team can keep Outman in the order against lefties without having to put Betts at short, so there’s still a benefit if both are able to hit in their platoon. It’s obviously too early to make any clear judgements, but how the platoon numbers work out over the final two months will be something to follow.


As for the Reds, De La Cruz got off to a great start against the Dodgers, going 3-for-7 with a double, triple, home run and a pair of walks in the first two games, but his struggles in the third game against the Dodgers have popped up since. Striking out three times in the third game of the series as he went 1-for-4, De La Cruz is hitting .209/.241/.327/.569 in 116 PAs with a .303 BABIP since June 25. That includes 42 strikeouts to just four walks. In his first 71 PAs, he slashed .359/.423/.641/1.063 and struck out 19 times to seven walks with a .476 BABIP. His biggest struggle according to Baseball Savant’s Pitch Arsenal Stats? A -3 RV and -1.9 RV/100 against four-seamers with a 44.1 K%.


Speaking of four-seamers, Bobby Miller is on the mound tonight for the Dodgers, his 11th career start since debuting against the Braves back on May 23. Since the rough patch against the Giants and Astros in late June, Miller has bounced back a bit against the Royals, Pirates, Mets and Rangers. Here’s a look at the three different stretches for Miller in those 10 starts.

May 23 to June 104230.782.2026.4%8.0%.431
June 17 to June 2429 2/312.106.4916.0%12.0%1.108
June 30 to July 224224.503.8724.1%3.3%.698

Baseball Savant says Miller did not throw a single four-seamer against the Astros on June 24, with the sinker being the primary pitch at 57.5%. That led to 7 hits in 14 at-bats, including three doubles and a home run. It also generated just 2 misses on 26 swings. In his four starts since that peak for the sinker and disappearing four-seamer, Miller has done this:

I’m truly curious how much of an outlier this will be for his entire career now. Miller’s sinker (98.7 mph) and four-seamer (98.9 mph) have mostly worked well together from a horizontal break point, but vertically have been a bit more all over the place.

Miller is still just 246 sinkers and 184 four-seamers into his major league career, but this has been interesting to follow so far. And as for the other three pitches, Miller has mixed the slider, curve and change-up all around as well.

So far, the both the change and curve have been pretty effective in their 14.7% and 13.5% usage.

Total PitchesPAsABBAxBAwOBAxwOBAWhiff%

Williamson’s 4.60 ERA/5.57 xERA/5.16 FIP/6.31 DRA probably says everything I need to say about who the Dodgers are facing tonight, but just to make it very, very clear.

Feels like Rosario couldn’t have asked for a better lefty to debut against, but Williamson’s numbers have been much better recently. Since facing the Dodgers on June 7, Williamson has actually pitched a bit better with a 3.94 ERA and a 4.28 FIP across 32 innings. Opponents only have a .694 OPS during the seven-game stretch, with the past four starts in July being even better at a 2.25 ERA, 3.78 FIP and .576 OPS. In his most recent outing, Williamson held the D-backs to just one run on three hits and one walk across 6 innings.

The start against the Dodgers, which was his worst of his debut season, had Mookie Betts, Miguel Vargas and Will Smith all connecting on home runs in the first three innings. Williamson settled down and retired 11 of the final 12 batters he faced, with the only blemish being a walk to Jonny Deluca as the Dodgers failed to score over the final six innings of the 8-6 loss.


As mentioned briefly above, Lance Lynn is now a Dodger with Joe Kelly returning to the team. You can read more about that here. With Trayce Thompson sent back to the White Sox, alongside Nick Nastrini and Jordan Leasure, the Dodgers needed to open up a pair of 40-man spots as Thompson is still on the 60-day IL.

Eddys Leonard was added to the 40-man roster back in November 2021 along with Jacob Amaya, Michael Grove, Outman and Jorbit Vivas. No. 31 in Bruce’s Midseason Top 55, Leonard had a very rough start to 2023 with Double-A Tulsa but had rebounded in the months since.

Currently slashing .254/.327.411/.739 as a 22-year-old with the Drillers, Leonard has made sense to include in plenty of deadline deals given his presence on a 40-man roster that is lacking much flexibility right now. Designating him for assignment would seem to confirm he’s going to be headed out before the deadline unless they believe they can get him back through waivers.

As for Justin Bruihl, the 26-year-old lefty has appeared in 65 regular season games for the Dodgers between 2021 and 2023. Holding a 3.65 ERA and a 4.48 FIP in 66 2/3 career innings, Bruihl was out of options for the season having unfortunately gone up and down five times in 2023. Had Bruihl been called up again, he would have had to pass through waivers first anyway. Bruihl also struck out five of the seven batters he faced back in the 2021 NLCS against the Braves, allowing just a single in his 2 innings of work.

The Dodgers now have 7 days to trade both players or place them on waivers. Given that Bruihl isn’t even the worst pitcher on the 40-man roster and Leonard may land in another organization’s Top 20 without much problem, they won’t be off of a roster for long.

I will say, it seems at least a little surprising Yonny Hernandez and Marisnick survived the 40-man cuts today. Hernandez has spent about 33 days on the major league roster this season with 27 PAs, 51 innings in the field and 1 inning on the mound, while Marisnick doesn’t seem to have a clear path back to the 26-man roster with Kiké and Rosario set to see time in the outfield.


First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. PT on SportsNet LA.

About Cody Bashore

Cody Bashore is a lifelong Dodger fan originally from Carpinteria, California (about 80 miles north of Dodger Stadium along the coast). He left California to attend Northern Arizona University in 2011, and has lived in Arizona full-time since he graduated in 2014 with a journalism degree.