All season long, it seems as if many folks, including ourselves, were seemingly trying to stir a bit a controversy each time the management crew of the Dodgers was faced with making a difficult decision regarding the club’s 25-man roster. Yet, in reality, despite all the frequent entries on the disabled list so far, the subsequent roster moves have paid huge dividends. What’s more, if only because of the increasing sample sizes of production, many of the impending personnel decisions may even start to become easier as the season progresses.
Since the midway point of 2017 Cactus league play, utility man Chris Taylor‘s name has been mentioned frequently whenever discussing the Dodgers’ 25-man roster. Taylor was in a battle with teammate Enrique Hernandez for the squad’s final position player spot, and ironically enough, missed out on being included on the Opening Day squad because of his inability to effectively man center field. But considering his production since being recalled in mid-April, it’s now difficult to even give him a much deserved day of rest.
Among all players on the active roster, Taylor is leading the club with a .327 average and a .424 on-base percentage, and has already tallied six home runs, seven doubles and 19 RBI — all solid numbers while keeping in mind that he’s been hitting a ton in the leadoff spot lately. Entering Sunday’s finale against the Cubs, his OPS+ is 167, and his oWAR has risen to +1.4 — not bad for a player who was once viewed as a secondary substitute infield option. And on top of all the wonderful offensive statistics, he’s been surprisingly decent with his glove, wherever skipper Dave Roberts has placed him on the diamond.
Even with the recent emergence of Hernandez and veteran infielder Chase Utley offensively, along with the upcoming return of third baseman Justin Turner from the disabled list, Roberts insists that Taylor will continue to get his reps.
“He’ll play,” Roberts said. “I’ll find him at-bats. He’s earned it.”
Hernandez is hitting .306/.390/.556 since May 8, lifting his batting average from .214 to .250. Utley is batting .341/.412/.614 since May 9, ballooning his average from .098 to .222. Unfortunately for Hernandez, though, he may be the odd man out when Turner is reinstated, bearing in mind that Brett Eibner is optioned when Joc Pederson is activated when his concussion symptoms have subsided. That’s supposing any other injuries don’t crop up between then and now. Yet considering the frequent fluctuation of players on the DL, a prospective demotion for Hernandez probably wouldn’t last long at all.
Even on the starting pitching front, for what was once an overcrowded group of confusion, especially at the tail-end of the rotation, things are beginning to work themselves out. If something unfortunate happens to come out of Brandon McCarthy‘s recent struggle with tendinitis, lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu‘s still around to slide in from the bullpen, assuming that management feels the need to give Julio Urias a little more time at Oklahoma City to sharpen his command.
And with the count still holding steady at eight in the relief corps, the club could always reduce that number to seven without feeling any negative effects, specifically during a phase where the starters are providing quality length.
In the end, any forthcoming roster moves will still require the same amount of critical thought, yet the current performances of several players, Taylor in particular, should make such personnel decisions much more easier than the choices faced earlier in the season.