Last week, when we initially put together our first draft of roster projections for the NLDS, we were somewhat undecided between including veteran first baseman Adrian Gonzalez and rookie utility man Kyle Farmer. As the regular season continues to dwindle away for the Dodgers, there hasn’t been much news regarding Gonzo’s back injury, yet based on the amount of playing time Gonzalez has been given lately, Farmer may have the inside track to a NLDS roster spot—at least in theory.
Prior to this season, Gonzalez had never missed significant time due to injury. Mired by two elongated stints on the disabled list this year, though, the 14-year veteran hasn’t been himself all season. The herniated disks in his back obviously had major effects on his numbers, as he posted a slash line of .238/.283/.335 with only two home runs and 29 RBI over 248 plate appearances. He hasn’t seen much action in the month of September, having collected 16 plate appearances in only eight of the 24 games that the Dodgers have played.
Gonzo is scheduled to start Tuesday evening’s contest against the Padres, his first start since going 0-for-5 against the Giants back on September 11. And while the team has been relatively quiet about the overall status of his back, he’s seemingly running out of time to prove his worth as a member of the prospective postseason roster. His leadership and dugout presence will certainly be valuable in a playoff run, however, he can easily exude such skills by being a spectator in the dugout. If his back injury indeed is preventing him from swinging the bat competently, there isn’t much sense in him limiting the team’s potential postseason production by taking up a spot on the roster.
In terms of MLB experience, Farmer is on the opposite spectrum of Gonzo, but would serve primarily as an emergency catcher, if only to open up more opportunities for Yasmani Grandal and Austin Barnes to collect their fair share of AB in the playoffs. Even if he’s called upon for a pinch-hitting scenario of some sort in the postseason, the 27-year-old Farmer has already proven to an extent that he can handle big league pitching, having gone 5-for-16 in the bigs this year, including a monumental walkoff double against the Giants on July 30.
By including Gonzalez on the NLDS roster, it would lessen the chances for Farmer to make the postseason squad, which, in turn, would conceivably limit the number of AB for either Grandal or Barnes.
Regardless of what happens over the next few weeks, all eyes will be on Gonzalez on Tuesday evening as he tests his back to see just how far he can push himself through his impairment.
In other news, right fielder Yasiel Puig is also penciled in to start Tuesday’s contest against San Diego, so long as he can manage to show up to work on time and partake in the necessary pregame activities.
Puig was benched on Sunday after making the final out in Saturday’s loss the Giants with a halfhearted attempt at stealing second base, an effort which he was tug out without even sliding.
Subsequently, he was benched in the opener against the Padres on Monday, this time showing up late for a scheduled pregame batting practice session.
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