In a statement made before Wednesday’s contest against the Brewers, Los Angeles skipper Dave Roberts indicated that the Dodgers were preparing to move third baseman Justin Turner onto the club’s active roster Thursday, conceivably unleashing one of the most potent offenses in the National League.
Subsequently, on Friday, veteran righty reliever John Axford will apparently join the 25-man roster, theoretically strengthening a bullpen which many believe to be the team’s biggest weakness.
But, before Turner returns to his normal three-hole in the lineup, the management team of the Dodgers will be forced to do some roster maneuvering to create an open spot on the active roster.
Ken Gurnick of MLB.com on Wednesday pointed out that Muncy may have been bitten by the dreaded home run derby curse. He noted that Muncy had a 1.013 OPS in the first half of the year, but since the derby, he’s 8-for-44 (.182) with 17 strikeouts and a .684 OPS. In his last seven games, Muncy is 2-for-22 with 12 strikeouts.
Taylor can play all over the yard, but he’s been seeing most of his action at shortstop, filling in for Corey Seager, whose season was ended with a UCL tear in his elbow. With Turner’s return, Manny Machado is expected to move back to short, setting the stages for an All-Star caliber infield and leaving Taylor without a regular spot.
The super-utility Hernandez is slashing just .214/.293/.435 over the entirety of the season, but he’s a legitimate power threat off the pine, and his defensive metrics at any position are among the best on the team. To accentuate his versatility, Hernandez has played at every spot on the diamond this season except for catcher.
In terms of production, though, second baseman Chase Utley may actually be one of the weakest links on the team, as he’s carrying a .240/.321/.342 slash line through 165 plate appearances, while his power numbers are essentially non-existent.
Nevertheless, chances are good the club will shrink the bullpen down to a seven-man crew to create the necessary space for Turner, at least temporarily. As it stands now, there are eight arms in the squad’s relief corps—closer Kenley Jansen, Pedro Baez, JT Chargois, Scott Alexander, Caleb Ferguson, Erik Goeddel, Dylan Floro and Daniel Hudson—but the club could decide to go one short if it needs time to make a more permanent decision. The team has utilized an eight-man-pen for most of the year, although there have been some short stints where they employed seven arms and even other cases where there have been nine relievers in the bullpen.
Of course, we as fans are never aware of any small, nagging injury which may have built itself up to the point of sending somebody for a quick stay on the disabled list.
Following all this, another roster shakeup will happen when Axford is activated on Friday, with the relief corps once again being the likely area for some personnel shifting.
First pitch is slated for 6:00 p.m. Los Angeles time.