Should Conforto Be Left off the NLDS Roster?
Sounds absurd doesn’t it? Michael Conforto has exceeded everyone’s expectations this year. He’s been a huge part of the team. However, he’s been used strictly as a platoon player. It’s probably because he’s hitting .167/.231/.167 against lefties this year, albeit in only 13 plate appearances.
Normally, this wouldn’t be an issue, but the Dodgers will be starting three lefties in the NLDS. If Clayton Kershaw starts Games 1 & 5, that means Conforto won’t start in four of the five NLDS games. I don’t think the Mets will prep Conforto for the lefties either. On clinch day, the Reds had a lefty on the mound, and Conforto was the only lefty who wasn’t in the lineup.
The question that arises is what use can Conforto be as a bench player? Even with his surprising defensive ability, he’s not a late inning defensive replacement; that’s Juan Lagares‘ job. That leaves him for pinch hitting and double switch and pinch hitting duties.
You could argue that role may be better left to Kirk Nieuwenhuis, who can play CF, or Eric Campbell, who’s right handed. Campbell is also versatile, which could be useful after the Juan Uribe injury. Both Nieuwenhuis and Campbell are also more accustomed to being bench players that sit for long stretches at a time.
However, this neglects Conforto’s limited work as a bench player. Conforto has hit .333/.429/.500 in seven plate appearances as a pinch hitter. Also, he’s just a better player than Nieuwenhuis and Campbell. When you’re selecting your playoff roster, you want your best players on the roster, even if they’re not going to play as much as they should.
However, if he’s left off the roster I’m not going to take issue. Anytime a player is potentially not going to play four out of five games, there should be a discussion whether there’s a player available who can better serve the team.
I just don’t think there is a better player than Michael Conforto.