To say the Dodgers‘ offense has been lackluster lately would be a bit of an understatement. After scoring 10 runs in Milwaukee last Friday, the Dodgers have only scored five runs in five games since then. Granted, they were facing some of the best pitchers they’ve face so far in Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg, but still the offense has left something to be desired.
So now seems the perfect time for Justin Turner to return to the lineup. Turner had been on the disabled list since May 19 with a right hamstring issue. Before going on the DL, Turner lead all of the major leagues with a .379/.453/.493/.946 slash line. While he only has one home run, he has 13 doubles and two stolen bases. Logan Forsythe and Enrique Hernandez have filled in well for him at the hot corner, but no one can dispute his excellent defense at third base.
Turner played Monday at High-A Rancho Cucamonga, where he went 1-for-3 with an RBI. He also participated in a sim game on Wednesday. After both games he reported no issues with his hamstring.
Manager Dave Roberts has formulated quite a few creative lineups while Turner has been out, and they don’t all necessarily work. Turner’s return will give another anchor to that lineup, allowing some players to be shifted back into their more natural positions. Perhaps Forsythe, who has been slumping since his own return from the disabled list, could benefit from returning to his natural defensive position at second base and be able to get his bat going again.
JT being back just adds that extra depth to the lineup, a bat that a pitcher does not want to face. It may give other batters better pitches to hit. It may just be the fact that he’s back that gives the offense the little jump-start it needs. It will also move Chase Utley and Hernandez back to the bench, providing excellent depth and pop for late-inning pinch hitting.
Joc Pederson and Andrew Toles remain the only two Opening Day starters on the DL. Toles will not return this season after surgery on his ACL. Pederson is still a ways off from being reinstated after his collision with Yasiel Puig in the outfield landed him on the concussion disabled list. He has returned to baseball activities, and is scheduled to have his first rehab night tonight in AAA Oklahoma City. Chris Taylor has been filling in for him in center, and after his ninth-inning grand slam last Friday to put the Dodgers ahead for good over the Brewers, people have been calling him ‘this year’s Andrew Toles. Another nod to the incredible depth this team has.
The Dodgers are set to open a three game set with the Cincinnati Reds. Pitching matchups will be Rich Hill vs. Amir Garrett on Friday, Saturday will see the return of Alex Wood from the DL to face Asher Wojciechowski, and Sunday will be Hyun-Jin Ryu against Tim Adleman. The first two pitchers for the Reds have not been pitching well as of late, so now is the perfect time to get that Dodgers offense hot again.
(FOLLOW ANDY ON TWITTER: @)