On a day when many folks close to the Dodgers await the outcome of an MRI on the right knee of Andrew Toles, it may be worth taking a quick moment to peek at the club’s outfield depth, if only at the majority of the players who appear to be major league ready.
The impending MRI results are critical in the sense that they may reveal a rough time frame for the recovery of Tolesy. A stint on the disabled list may be imminent, but the length of such a stay will likely be determined by the findings of the test. Some media outlets have already mentioned a torn meniscus or ACL as possibilities, however, a more accurate diagnosis will follow once the results are examined.
Regardless, in the absence of Toles, only two left-handed hitting outfielders — Joc Pederson and Cody Bellinger — remain on the big league roster. To boot, Bellinger’s primary duty at the moment has been playing first base in the absence of a healing Adrian Gonzalez. Veteran Andre Ethier still isn’t anywhere close to a rehab assignment for his back injury, which was further signified by the club bumping him to the 60-day disabled list on Tuesday.
As far as Triple-A Oklahoma City goes, we have been mentioning the trio of Trayce Thompson, Scott Van Slyke and Brett Eibner quite often as of late. The problem, though, is that all three are right handed-hitters and wouldn’t figure well into a squad which preaches favorable hitting matchups in light of the team’s batting splits. Still, Van Slyke began the season on the big league roster and produced a slash line of only .129/.250/.258 over 36 plate appearances before he was demoted to OKC in hopes of rediscovering his swing. In 77 ABs through 22 games at Oklahoma City, Thompson is hitting a paltry .130/.193/.156, while Eibner is hitting a mediocre .258 in 66 ABs. Another right-handed batter, Tyler Holt, has been used sparingly, but is slashing only .130/.167/.130 in 23 ABs heading into Thursday’s contest against Fresno.
After beginning the year on fire at the dish, yet another right-handed hitter, 27-year-old left fielder/first baseman O’Koyea Dickson, has settled into a .276/.325/.543 slash line. He does have reverse-split tendencies though, having produced a .291/.344/.570 line against righties, with a .211/.238/.421 average against southpaws. Even so, Dickson has yet to reserve a spot on the 40-man roster, and probably wouldn’t be overly beneficial as a platoon partner with Franklin Gutierrez in left field, anyway.
Henry Ramos, who was signed as a free agent over the winter, is a switch-hitter who can cover all three outfield positions. He began Cactus League play sizzling at the plate, but has yet to appear at any level after suffering a groin injury towards the tail end of spring training.
That leaves 20-year-old Alex Verdugo as the only other left-handed hitting option remaining at OKC. Verdugo’s slashing .320/.402/.403 in 97 ABs, and while he certainly has all the tools for success, he may be perhaps a single year away from making an appearance in the bigs. He is not on the major league 40-man roster.
The left-handed hitting Ike Davis is still around, but he’s currently sitting on OKC’s 7-day DL with who knows how serious of an injury. If the big league squad is desperate enough for a lefty bat, Davis could fill in admirably at first while Bellinger could be utilized to provide outfield cover.
Looking ahead, the club should still be in a somewhat functional state, barring any additional types of injuries to the existing outfield crew. Franklin Gutierrez may be asked to provide more reps in the near future, and both Pederson and Yasiel Puig will certainly be looked upon to produce extra support on offense. If the diagnosis on the knee of Toles bears any seriously bad news, the Dodgers may be one single disastrous injury away from a lopsided outfield.
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