With Seager out, LA's depth issues exposed

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When they seemed to be steamrolling toward a sweep of the Cubs in the best-of-seven National League Championship Series presented by Camping World, it didn’t look as if leaving Seager and his sprained back off the roster would matter. With a devastating bullpen and Justin Turner walk-offs, the absence of the All-Star shortstop was covered over. But Wednesday night’s 3-2 loss in Game 4 showed the Dodgers’ depth can go only so far.

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With no Seager and the Cubs starting right-hander Jake Arrieta, manager Dave Roberts moved center fielder Chris Taylor to shortstop, which worked in Game 3 when Joc Pederson played center. But it was a bust in Game 4 when Roberts replaced Taylor in center with Curtis Granderson, who struck out all four at-bats. Before the game, Roberts said he was hoping Granderson would “break out” against Arrieta, as Granderson had been 10-for-32 with three homers against him.

But that was then, and Granderson is 0-for-7 with four strikeouts in the series, after going 1-for-8 with four strikeouts in the NL Division Series presented by T-Mobile, after batting .161 following his acquisition from the Mets.

“Obviously, I want to do some things to help the club out the best I can,” said Granderson. “Haven’t been able to come through in the situation, but continue to swing the bat, come back [Thursday] with another opportunity to win a game for us.”

Granderson, a Chicago native, said he’s not pressing.

“I’ve had a ton of at-bats over my career; you’re going to get hits, you’re going to get outs, things may go your way, sometimes it doesn’t,” he said. “That’s baseball.”

Then there’s Chase Utley, getting another start at second base and going 0-for-3 with two strikeouts, a double-play grounder and a hit by pitch. Utley is 0-for-7 in the series after going 0-for-2 in the NLDS. He went 0-for-12 in last year’s NLCS against the Cubs and 3-for-16 in last year’s NLDS against the Nationals.

Cubs pitchers issued eight walks (three to Yasmani Grandal, batting ahead of Utley) and hit a batter, but the Dodgers cashed in none of those. They scored only on solo home runs from Cody Bellinger (batting in Seager’s second spot in the order) and another by Turner. Andre Ethier, who delivered a home run in his first start Tuesday night, went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts. The bottom five of the batting order went 0-for-16.

Roberts gave credit to Arrieta.

“In an elimination game, he’s going to leave it all out there, and that’s exactly what he did,” Roberts said. “Got him to 110 pitches and he left it all out there. Kept us off balance. Made pitches when he needed to. The sinker was moving. He had curveball working today, throwing it for a strike and then down below the zone when he needed to. Kept a lot of our lefties at bay.”

Arrieta whiffs Ethier

Even in defeat, the Dodgers consider the 48 pitches Cubs closer Wade Davis threw in a two-inning save a bonus, especially not having used their own closer, Kenley Jansen, although the final Davis pitch became a game-ending double-play bouncer by Bellinger that left Turner in the on-deck circle.

“That’s how we’ve done it all year, get guys on the bases and put ourselves within one swing of winning a game,” said Turner. “We did it again tonight in the eighth and the ninth, we just hit some balls hard at guys.”

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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