By the time the Dodgers head into San Diego this weekend for a three-game divisional series, the team’s 25-man roster may have a bit of a different look, most specifically with the return of three position players — Franklin Gutierrez, Joc Pederson and Logan Forsythe.
Yesterday, Andy briefly discussed a few of the upcoming implications as far as player personnel goes. The Dodgers haven’t yet revealed exactly how they intend on making room for the aforementioned trio, but the impending moves may indeed involve the demotions of at least a few players who are undeserving.
Gutierrez will be the first to be reinstated from the disabled list, and will likely get the start somewhere in the Dodgers’ outfield against San Francisco left-hander Matt Moore on Tuesday. Before injuring his hamstring. the 34-year-old veteran was 3-for-12 against lefty pitching with a walk and two doubles. Lifetime, he has a slash line of .288/.350/.494 in more than 1000 ABs against southpaw pitchers. As long as he’s healthy, he’s going to be in the lineup against left-handers, as the Dodgers signed him for that precise role.
Who gets bumped out when Gutierrez returns is anybody’s guess. To start, the Dodgers may decide to shrink the bullpen before making the more difficult decisions when both Pederson and Forsythe return, which could be as early as Friday. Right now, the Los Angeles relief corps is eight members strong, and could conceivably be reduced to a crew of seven without any major hiccups.
Despite playing like he deserves a place on the big league squad, Chris Taylor may be on the losing end of a roster spot if Forsythe in fact comes back this weekend. Since being recalled in mid-April, Taylor is has gone 9-for-28 at the dish, including two doubles, two home runs and six RBI. And perhaps more importantly, Taylor’s offensive performance often appears to be at its best during clutch situations and with runners on base — two areas which the Dodgers could certainly use better production as a team.
Taylor easily displaces super-utility man Enrique Hernandez on the 25-man roster, but for some apparent reason the club’s management crew insists on having a right-handed batting option to provide cover in center field, once again prioritizing certain hitting/pitching matchups over who may be the better player in general. This has been one of the most prevalent philosophies in the club’s success, dating back to the early stages of president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman‘s arrival in Los Angeles.
Infielder/outfielder Cody Bellinger may also be another undeserving victim of a demotion in the coming days. The 21-year-old rookie has been seeing consistent time against both righty and lefty pitching, but he’s absolutely finding his success destroying right-handers. Before Tuesday’s contest, he’s gone 8-for-19 against righties with two home runs and a double. Add in his fine defensive skills and his innate aptitude of understanding the game, and it’s almost difficult not to keep him on the big league roster in spite of his inexperience. The fact that utility man Scott Van Slyke maintains a roster spot while batting a meager .129/.250/.258 further illustrates the importance that management puts on having ample offensive options for a wide variety of hitting matchups.
In the greater scope of things, it is only April, and the management crew of the Dodgers has plenty of time to work out all the minor roster wrinkles while creating the best possible fixes for unexpected injuries. In the meantime, if both Taylor and Bellinger are optioned to Oklahoma City as expected, there’s no doubt that a return for each is imminent in the very near future.
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