While many would think the news of Joc Pederson and Logan Forsythe returning from the disabled list would spotlight the majority current headlines in Los Angeles, most fans of the Dodgers appear to be more intrigued by the impending moves that are necessary to create the space on the 25-man roster.
Yesterday, we pointed out a few hypothetical scenarios moments before outfielder Franklin Gutierrez was reinstated. Ultimately, the management crew decided to demote utility man Scott Van Slyke to Triple-A Oklahoma City, providing him the opportunity to play more frequently and fine tune his offensive approach. Consequently, when the Dodgers begin the weekend series on Friday in San Diego, two more corresponding moves will need to be made before both Pederson and Forsythe can be reinstated.
We initially mentioned the fact that the club is currently carrying eight relievers, and that the relief corps could conceivably be diminished to seven pitchers without any major consequences. That said, it would only make sense to use that option on Friday, just one day after the entire team has a day off, thus ensuring a completely fresh bullpen for the weekend. Yet as easy as it sounds to solve part of the problem, it really isn’t that simple in the end.
Without looking peripherally, the team would surely benefit by keeping Cody Bellinger on the big league roster. It would be a shame for a demotion right now, if only because he’s absolutely red hot, and that he wouldn’t really have any adjustments to work on at Triple-A OKC. Major league pitching will develop a plan against the 21-year-old phenom soon, and many pundits eagerly await to see if Bellinger can stay consistent offensively. Should he falter, though, he’ll at least have a course of action to focus upon should he end up at Oklahoma City at some point down the road.
The problem with retaining Bellinger is that it directly conflicts with the presence of Andrew Toles. Before Bellinger arrived, the outfield lined up with Yasiel Puig in right, Pederson in center, and a platoon between Tolesy and Gutierrez in left. Toles also has the ability to play all three spots if needed to spell either Pederson and Puig, along with Enrique Hernandez being available to provide additional cover.
Bellinger certainly needs to play every day at whatever level he’s at, and there’s just not enough playing time available if he’s only spelling Adrian Gonzalez at first and splitting time with Toles in either center or left field. In essence, it almost appears if the club needs to commit to either Toles or Bellinger, if only for this particular juncture of the season. At the end of the day, Bellinger doesn’t have quite the quickness and range of Toles, but he probably has him beat in just about every other category, both offensively and defensively. From a developmental point of view, it’s difficult to commit either way, at least until big league pitching comes up with an effective game plan against Bellinger — if it happens at all.
The argument for Taylor is definitely much less complex. Taylor easily displaces 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 best player in general. The bottom line is that either Toles or Bellinger can provide extra backup in center field, but neither hit right-handed. Ultimately, superior offense and defense, despite a lefty/ leftty hitting matchup may be trump the presence of Hernandez.
At length, there are dozens of different angles and perspectives to use for analysis in both cases. And it also doesn’t help that both Bellinger and Taylor have extremely small sample sizes, especially in their respective offensive games. But while the impending roster moves appear to be significant in nature, all of the parties involved have options on their contracts, making all of the pieces easily interchangeable over the course of time. Still, whatever route the management crew of the Dodgers decides to take may be indicative of the intended blueprint of the club over the long haul.
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