Dyson’s hot bat means fewer swings for Cain — and a lot more options for Yost

Royals manager Ned Yost has been riding the hot hand of Jarrod Dyson (center) over the past few games, reducing the playing time of Lorenzo Cain (right). 

Denny Medley/Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

MINNEAPOLIS — For the fourth time in the past five games, Lorenzo Cain did not start Monday night. Jarrod Dyson did.

Cain wasn’t exactly sure why. He said he is completely healthy.

"You’d have to ask (manager Ned Yost)," Cain said. "I have no idea."

Yost explained that the decision to start Dyson lately was not a reflection on Cain.

"I’m just going with the hot hand," Yost said.

Indeed, Dyson has been hot lately. In his last 13 games before Monday, Dyson was hitting .355 with a .815 OPS. He also stole eight bases during that stretch.

Cain, though, hasn’t exactly been a slouch. Though he did have four strikeouts Saturday night, Cain was hitting .326 with a .770 OPS and four stolen bases over his last 16 games.

Yost simply has liked Dyson’s chances a bit better lately.

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"You try to mix and match," Yost said. "We go on matchups. We look at a bunch of things. Sunday we looked at (Tommy) Milone and he pitches down and away and down and away to righties. That’s not good for righties. So we went with Dyson."

Yost also said he isn’t leaning toward a straight platoon of his two center fielders.

"We just go day to day," Yost said. "We’ll get Lorenzo back in there against Colorado.

"Look, it keeps everyone going out there. It gives Dyson a chance. You get to rest Cain a little. And we got two lefties (going against us) in Colorado. So Cain gets his chance."

Yost’s hunch was spot on again Monday. Dyson went 1 for 3, walked and scored, and drove in the fifth run with a key two-out single.

And yes, you can expect Yost to continue to alter his lineup throughout the rest of the season, perhaps on a daily basis depending on matchups.

"We’ve got 38 games left," he said. "We’ve got to try to put the best lineup out there every night."

And no matter who starts, Yost intends to use both Dyson and Cain every game anyway, especially for late-inning defensive replacements. That’s when Yost had Dyson in center and Cain in right replacing Nori Aoki.

"Nori isn’t exactly a hack out there," Yost said. "But when you can get Cain and Dyson in the same outfield, that’s pretty good."

Yost no longer is tentative about playing Dyson more regularly because Dyson has matured as a hitter and an overall player.

"He’s a weapon," Yost said. "… His swing is much more consistent this year. He’s driving the ball to the opposite field. He takes walks. He uses the whole field and is not just a dead pull hitter.

"He’s coming along."

You can follow Jeffrey Flanagan on Twitter at @jflanagankc or email him at jeffreyflanagan6@gmail.com.