How Will Dodgers Create Roster Space for Justin Turner?

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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.

There’s been a bit of speculation that one of the club’s valued utility men—Chris Taylor, Enrique Hernandez or Max Muncy—could possibly see a stint in the minor leagues, at least temporarily.

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 JansenPedro BaezJT ChargoisScott AlexanderCaleb FergusonErik 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.

In the meantime, staff ace Clayton Kershaw will take the mound for the Dodgers in the series finale on Thursday. He’ll be opposed by Milwaukee righty Jhoulys Chacin.

First pitch is slated for 6:00 p.m. Los Angeles time.

 

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32 thoughts on “How Will Dodgers Create Roster Space for Justin Turner?

  1. HR Derby “curse” my behind, Muncy’s just in a slump and I’m surprised it took him THIS long to get into one. He’ll be fine. If the Dodgers want to create roster space for Turner, ALWAYS start with the weakest link which happens to be Utley as of now. Still, I don’t think the Dodgers have the balls to go through with it so it will most likely be one of the less important bullpen arms (Baez? Hudson?) that gets moved off the roster instead…

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    1. I agree that they won’t force Utley to retire, although he might be amenable to a week or two of vacation on the DL. On the other hand, if they promise themselves not to start him, his pinch hit stats have got to be among the best in the majors, so I’m not sure we can actually call him a weak link. Between JT, Axford, Cingrani, Fields, Urias and Ryu all returning sooner or later, I think we may see the most creative use of the DL in major league history over the next couple of months.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Admittedly I haven’t checked stats before posting this, so you might be able to shoot lots of holes in this argument; however……………………………..I think Muncy has had a bad couple of weeks (actually a very bad couple of weeks) but Bellinger has had a pretty horrible second half (and the first half wasn’t spectacular either) and might be helped more by a trip to OKC. I’m guessing that if they decide Muncy draws the short straw, it’s more likely a visit to the DL as opposed to being optioned. I could be very wrong here. I’ve been wrong before (it was only once. I believe the year was 1983 or 1984, but it has happened). 🙂

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      1. I was wrong in ‘66 and again in ‘78. I remember the dates clearly.

        I don’t DL either of them. At AAA whoever gets sent down gets at bats. I’d rather Muncy be there playing every day. Bellinger has value on defense. And, it’s my opinion he needs at bats here, not at AAA. He will get it figured out.

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      2. I really can’t disagree with you here which would mean that I’ve now been wrong a second time; however, before admitting to that I would like a vote of TBPC readers.

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  2. I think Andrew just checks in here to see what the real answers are. Let’s face it, you’ve got two old goats who have only been wrong 4 times in their lives between them. Chances are, they’re worth listening to.

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    1. You know, when you put it that way, it reaffirms my opinion of myself.

      I’m looking for news as Turner is said to be returning today. I haven’t seen anything.

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  3. To me Bellinger is a candidate to be sent down for a reset. He’s been under-performing all year. Mainly, however, they should ask Utley to retire now, not at the end of the season. He should be selfless enough to realize the writing is on the wall.

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      1. They’ll be looking for volunteers for tomorrow Scoop. How’s that hangnail you’ve been experiencing?

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    1. I’m good for a few innings Jeff. I think I can still straighten out a fastball. A better strategy might be to sit on a change.

      If Muncy continues his 2 for 22 schneid he might be next, though at bats every night in OKC would be better for him. I got a feeling Bellinger is close. He’s going to launch one soon. Maybe tonight.

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      1. I’d be astonished if tomorrow’s casualty isn’t a bullpen guy. Otherwise by adding Axford they have a 9-man pen.

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  4. Hyun-Jin Ryu looking sharp through his first 2 innings so far at Rancho tonight, showing no ill effects from his groin injury back in the 1st half. Gavin Lux having a very good debut for Tulsa, 3-4 with his first Texas League HR (a 2-run shot in the 6th). Too bad he still can’t throw to save his life from the middle-infield part of the diamond. Almost averaging an error a game of late, simply unacceptable…

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    1. Has Lux’s fielding always been a problem or is it a recent development? And is it basically his arm? If so, maybe he needs to be moved to second.

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    2. Most of Lux’s errors so far this season have come off an increasingly annoying mechanical issue in his throws (much like the one Dee Gordon had prior). Has this habit of dropping his elbow down before releasing the ball, causing it to sail wide of the receiver. Much as I like his offensive potential right now, he’s not gonna be of any use to the Dodgers long-term at either SS or even 2B if he can’t get it straightened out by the time he’s finally ready for the show. That’s why I mentioned him possibly moving to the OF as a last resort, but that would mean future trade bait for him if it ever comes down to that. I get the feeling the Dodgers’ next true middle-infield duo to come has already been staring me in the face the last couple weeks in Amaya (who went 1-3 with a BB and an RBI in his Great Lakes debut today) and Brito who might end up blowing by Lux as the top system prospect at the SS position on account of his plus defense and rapidly progressing hit/power tool so far.

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      1. There are drills to correct Lux’ issues. It’s fixable. Put him through catch and release boot camp.

        I commission Goeddel to the minor leagues.

        Baez is an enigma to me. He has terrific stuff but still gets way too much of the plate with it. Looking at the pitch fx charts on fangraphs is very interesting. His ERA has always been below league average, his velocity is down this year, still mid 90s, but his spray charts suggests he throws too many, about 20%, center cut. His 5×5 chart shows the target he hits most often, out of 25 over and around the plate, is right down the middle. This guy has command issues. How to fix that? Hellifino. Ask Honeycutt. If he could work the edges successfully he would be the 8th inning guy. I know most don’t care for him. I can’t help it. I see an arm like that and I’m fascinating by it. Give me that stuff and I’m Scoopiano Rivera.

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      2. What about our new favorite Vargas? Do you see him as the future third baseman? I think he’s been playing both second and third so far if I’m not mistaken.

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      3. Jeff, Vargas can play either corner infield position so it depends on where the Dodgers feel they have the least amount of depth at those two spots. I’d rather leave him at 3B and let him continue to develop there. He’s such a premium talent, I can’t believe only a few in the entire baseball world have picked up on him as of today…

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  5. Maybe a waiver wire deal for Jacob Saleverlander will pop up and we can send Gavin off in the deal. You can do stuff like that when you have the Luxury of abundance.

    Yeah, ok, that one needs a little work.

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    1. It took me a couple of seconds, but that pitcher’s name finally registered. And then adding Lux ury of Abundance? It’s apparent that your medicinal cannabis great enhances your writing skills. 🙂

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  6. Observation: the readers of this blog are a fascinating group. Our beloved Boys in Blue came within one strike of being no-hit this week, couldn’t hit their way out of a paper bag for 3 or 4 games and then last night score 21 runs while hitting 7 homers, and yet NOT ONE comment on last night’s score. We are indeed a very esoteric group here and prefer to concentrate on just-drafted prospects and rehab assignments. Let the rest of Dodger world rejoice in the momentary joy of last night’s game while we plan for the future!

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    1. I limit my medical cannabis use because it makes me forgetful and often causes me to repeat myself.

      Why no comment on 21 runs? Well, I’ve read the term all or nothing in a few places, mostly in places I post cuz I’m the one that said it. Last night was what all looks like. We’ve seen the nothing a few times this year. We’ll see it again. Milwaukee checked out early on that one. We Mercy Rule’d by the 6th and most of them were looking at the clock and thinking about their flight from that point in. Yeah, they got 3 off Notso Goeddel, but then they left their bodies and gave up 9.

      Thanks for compliment Jeff. You know I don’t often use medical cannabis anymore because it makes me forgetful and I often repeat myself.

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      1. Yeah, you gotta watch the med cannabis. I think your decision to stick to recreational is wise. And when I get to Sedona one day, what Comedy Club will I find you at?

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  7. You two are quite the comedians. I’m not going to get overly excited about 21, I know a few goose eggs will bring us back to earth, but it sure was nice to see J.T. back in the line up.

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