It could be something small, or it could be the start of a successful string that will be long-lasting. Either way, Chris Taylor has finally found a groove, and it couldn’t have come at a better time.
Dating back to May 1, Taylor was hitting just .162 in perhaps the worst part of his slump. At the time, he had 12 hits in 84 plate appearances, and many fans wondered why he was garnering so much playing time. Even though skipper Dave Roberts said that he would stick by Taylor amidst his struggles, some wondered if a demotion to the minor leagues was in the utility man’s immediate future.
However, things began to change when the Dodgers arrived in San Diego on May 3. Since the opening game of that series, Taylor has gone 9-for-17 with two doubles, two long balls and six RBI. Now, as the current homestand progresses, many fans will be left wondering if he’s NOT included in the lineup on a daily basis.
Before Tuesday’s middle game against the Braves, Taylor was slashing .231/.297/.385 over 91 AB. Those are not stellar numbers by any means, but they’re certainly better than the .162 average he carried at the beginning of the month.
On Monday night, he went 2-for-4 with two RBI in the team’s 5-3 victory. He drove in Justin Turner with a single in the third inning to put the Dodgers up by three. His double to right field in the fifth frame plated Corey Seager, stretching the lead to five runs.
“He’s just getting opportunities to go out there and play,” Roberts said of Taylor before the start of the series against the Braves. “I think he’s taking better swings. When he does get a ball in the strike zone, he’s getting it going forward and not fouling it off or swinging through it.”
Taylor was spending extra time with his mentor and new hitting coach Robert Van Scoyoc to help remedy his slump before his recent success. A few adjustments in his mechanics were made, but CT3 said that he actually felt that he has been pretty close to the swing that landed him success over the past two seasons.
“It hasn’t really shown much, but I’ve actually felt pretty good the last week or two,” Taylor told Jorge Castillo of The Los Angeles Times on Monday. “And, I’m just trying to go up there and I’ve been working on things in the cage and I felt like I’ve been really close.”
Even during his downturn, Taylor was still among the team leaders hitting with runners in scoring position. For the year, he’s now hitting .421/.455/.526 over 22 plate appearances with RISP.
Regardless of his recent success, Taylor may still find himself in a platoon role, even though the team is still down an outfielder. While A.J. Pollock‘s timetable for a return is still uncertain, Taylor could remain on the pine against righty pitching, unless he’s needed to cover a spot in the infield.
Overall, Taylor is slashing .289/.319/.556 in 45 AB against southpaws, but he’s hitting just .174/.278/.217 against right-handers. Six of his eight extra-base hits—including all three long balls—have come against lefties.
Still, Taylor’s recent 9-for-17 string has been a huge bonus, especially during the recent, brief absence of Cody Bellinger.
If Taylor continues his current rate of production, it certainly strengthens an already powerful Los Angeles lineup, even if he appears mainly against left-handed pitching.