Fredi G said it’s not a 2B platoon, but sure looks like one

CINCINNATI – Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez says it's not a strict lefty-righty platoon at second base with rookies Tommy La Stella and Phil Gosselin, but with one exception that's the way it's played out for the past 10 games.

La Stella was in the lineup Friday night gainst Reds right-hander Mat Latos, after Gosselin started Thursday against Reds left-hander David Holmberg. Each rookie has made five starts in the past 10 games, and in all but one case it was right-handed hitting Gosselin in the lineup against a lefty starter and left-handed La Stella against righties.

The only exception was Aug. 16, when Gosselin started with Oakland right-hander Sonny Gray on the mound, after La Stella had started the previous two games. Neither player has started more than two consecutive games since they began splitting the second-base duties.

“No, I don’t think it’s a platoon,” Gonzalez said Friday. “It’s a feel thing. I like them both and I’m trying to get them both in the lineup. They bring two different dynamics to your lineup. Gosselin’s a guy you can hit-and-run, steal a base. Tommy’s a little different type hitter. He can draw a walk, hit a ball in the gap.”

As Gonzalez noted, there aren’t many, if any, previous matchups to base each day’s lineup decision on, since both rookies are facing most pitchers for the first time, or no more than the second time. “So it’s just a feel thing,” he said.

But it’s worked out almost strictly as a lefty-righty platoon.

The irony is, La Stella, batting .270 overall with a .347 on-base percentage, has actually hit better in the majors against lefties than against righties, albeit it far fewer opportunities. Before Friday, La Stella had a .340 average (18-for-53) against lefties with six extra-base hits, a .426 OBP and .472 slugging percentage.

Against righties, La Stella was 51-for-203 (.251) with nine extra-base hits, a .326 OBP and .325 slugging percentage.

Gosselin was batting .293 (12-for-41) with two extra-base hits, no walks, eight strikeouts and a .293 OBP since arriving from Triple-A, initially penciled in for a utility role but lately almost exclusively a second baseman. Before Friday he was 7-for-25 (.280) against lefties and 5-for-16 (.313) two extra-base hits and a .563 slugging percentage against righties.

Since he began getting regular playing time, Gosselin 8-for-22 in five starts with a double, a home run, six runs and two RBis. The Braves see him as a potential “super utility” type player for the future, and he moved to left field late in Thursday’s 8-0 win.

Veteran Emilio Bonifacio has been the Braves’ super-utility type since coming from the Cubs in a July 31 trade.

Before he began sharing the second-base duties with Gosselin, La Stella started 65 of 68 games after arriving from Triple-A Gwinnett on May 28.

After batting .297 with a a .371 OBP in his first 46 major league games through July 20, La Stella hit .220 with a .304 OBP in his past 26 games, and was 2-for-23 with one RBI in his past eight games (six starts) before Friday.

“I’m just trying to get them playing time, because I think they both deserve to get playing time,” Gonzalez said of the two rookies. “Which, I think it’s a good problem to have. They make contact, have good at-bats. Yesterday with Gosselin, just laying the bunt down and all of a sudden it’s (runners on) first and second, the line moves.”