For some reason, many fans of the Dodgers are intrigued at the prospect of team management making roster adjustments. As a matter of fact, some people thrive on it, suggesting that even the most capable players be replaced when they’re in the midst of slumps of even small duration.
Obviously, six games isn’t quite enough time to evaluate a player from the standpoint of whether or not he should retain his spot on the 25-man roster, but those six games do give us a indicator of where said player is at as far as production goes. Offensively, two players who are drawing enormous criticism at the moment are Chris Taylor and Max Muncy—so much so that the aforementioned fans are already calling for their heads.
So far, Muncy has gone 2-for-20 with seven punchouts, and Taylor has gone 2-for-16 with four Ks. Both players have each hit one home run and are the only extra-base hits either has tallied.
We discussed all winter how we thought Muncy would digress, and that has certainly been the case, at least in the first six games. However, for all we know, he could catch fire at any moment. That’s the beauty of baseball and why we watch it. If it was 100% predictable based on the study of numbers, there would probably be a mass exodus among the fan base.
Hypothetically, though, if both players continue to produce at their current rates, there could be some moves made. I think Taylor might be the last to be optioned, only because he is more versatile defensively than Muncy. Both players have one option on their contracts, so there’s really no difference in that regard.
The thing about Muncy is that Cody Bellinger—whose bat is absolutely on fire—can easily be shifted to first base. Bellinger probably prefers to play first, actually. He may even be better suited to earn a Gold Glove there. And, between Alex Verdugo, Enrique Hernandez and Taylor, right field would probably still be in great shape. Verdugo is delivering big-time in the limited action he’s seen, and he would likely have a starting spot on eight out of 10 of rival clubs across the league.
Regardless, it’s still early. Six games is hardly a decent sample size. But, it’s definitely something to keep an eye on. The management team and coaching staff are in no hurry. After all, it took 163 games to secure a division title last year. The season is long.
Nevertheless, the starting rotation possibly will be seeing an adjustment or two in the foreseeable future. Clayton Kershaw will make the Opening Day start for Triple-A Oklahoma City on Thursday, when he’s expected to go about four innings and 60 pitches, followed by a cool-down session in the bullpen. Rich Hill, on the other hand, has backed off the gas a bit. The veteran southpaw won’t throw off a mound again until Saturday at Coors Field. After that, he may be in line for a sim game before making some type of minor league rehab start. So, to say it will be a matter of “weeks” for Hill would likely be a safe assumption.
As far as Kersh goes, if all goes well in his OKC start, he may end up replacing Ross Stripling in the starting rotation. It’s not set in stone, but Roberts has suggested that Julio Urias will remain in the starting five until Hill returns, and deservedly so. He looked fantastic in the series opener against the Giants, throwing five shutout innings of three-hit ball while striking out seven.
Roberts suggested that Urias will get bumped to the bullpen with Hill’s return. In a recent interview, boss Andrew Friedman still remains non-committal on the details of the young lefty’s innings limit, saying that nothing yet has been set in stone.
It’s all worth keeping an eye on, though, especially if the bullpen continues to throw ineffectively. Before spring training began, an ideal ending to a perfectly designed game would have seen Pedro Baez, Joe Kelly and Kenley Jansen throwing the seventh, eighth and ninth innings, respectively. However, at the moment, the final three frames of any game almost feel like an adventure.