The Dodgers were smart to get Manny Machado earlier rather than later during the trade deadline season. As we’ve previously mentioned, the Los Angeles squad opens the second half against a slew of tough opponents, and Manny’s bat in the lineup for those games helps tremendously. But now, it also appears that the Dodgers will be down their All-Star third baseman for most of those games, too.
Justin Turner started the game Sunday against the Milwaukee Brewers. It was just his first start in 10 days and he had only appeared twice as a pinch hitter in that span. That time off, along with the All-Star break, were supposed to help to keep JT off the DL, but he was pulled from Sunday’s game in the third inning. The culprit was a groin issue that Turner has been dealing with, in addition to still having lingering effects from the wrist injury he incurred in spring training.
Dodger fans had been calling for him to go on the DL a week ago. If JT wasn’t going to be in the lineup for awhile anyway, why not have someone take his place in the lineup or on the bench. The Dodgers’ system is built for depth, why not use it and let JT heal properly?
In reality, the Dodgers just prolonged the inevitable. Turner has been a shell of himself of last year, because he has not been completely healthy yet this season. His presence in the lineup did make a difference in the production of the offense, although not necessarily coming from JT himself.
The Dodgers are expected to place Turner on the DL Monday. So the question is, who will cover third while he’s recovering? The obvious choice would be the newly acquired, Gold Glove winner Machado. Manager Dave Roberts had said that he would give Manny time to adjust to being on the team and playing shortstop for a week or two before asking him to move over to third base to fill in. Well, that time table may just be moved up.
Max Muncy was at the hot corner in Milwaukee on Saturday and he had a horrendous showing, quite possibly costing the Dodgers and Kershaw the win, committing three errors. Muncy then filled in for Turner Sunday when JT was removed, and made another error. Roberts is big on letting players work through any issues that they may be having, either on the field or at bat, but I think Muncy should be moved further down the available 3B list.
Logan Forsythe handled the majority of playing time at third at the beginning of the season. He also had some issues with defense there, although not quite as bad as Muncy. His offense has been especially subpar, although if the last two games are any indication, he could finally be turning things around in that department.
The Dodgers will have to bring someone up to take the place of Turner on the 25-man roster. One candidate could be Kyle Farmer, who has also played third for the Dodgers and has done a pretty good job of it. Having him there would leave Machado at short, move Muncy to second or first, Bellinger at first or outfield.
But the Dodgers also need to think further ahead in the week. Yasiel Puig is rumored to be coming back from the DL, as early as Thursday in Atlanta. That means another player sent down or, possibly, DFA’d. Austin Barnes has not been producing at all. Farmer could be the backup catcher to Yasmani Grandal, in addition to playing some third. I think this would be the best scenario—if the Dodgers bring up Alex Verdugo, when Puig returns, there will be too many outfielders and he would seemingly need to be sent down.
There’s also strong indication that Walker Buehler is going to be brought back up to start Wednesday against Philadelphia. Will he be the move made for Turner’s DL stint, or will there be multiple transactions? Verdugo posted on his Instagram mood ya morning that he was in Philadelphia, so that seems to answer which move will be made first. While we can all debate the merits of which moves to make when, we can all agree that the fact that the Dodgers have many options at their disposal is a happy problem, and one that many other teams would be lucky to have.
The Dodgers are set to begin a three game series in Philadelphia Monday. Monday’s pitching matchup will be Ross Stripling against Zac Eflin; Tuesday will see Kenta Maeda and Aaron Nola; Wednesday’s matinee is TBD and Jake Arrieta. There is much rain in the forecast for Philly, so most of the games could be in flux.