The idea that the Los Angeles Dodgers could benefit from several offensive reinforcements after winning 12 of their last 13 contests might seem a bit unthinkable. However, their skid of losing 15 of 20 games not long ago may suggest otherwise.
The team has adjusted adequately when compensating for an overwhelming number of injuries so far this year, as suggested by the club’s ability to stay right in the thick of the National League West divisional race. But with both Bellinger and McKinstry back on the active roster, the Dodgers just might elevate into the elite status they displayed in the early weeks of the season.
Bellinger and McKinstry, both lefty hitters, began their respective rehab assignments at Triple-A Oklahoma City last weekend. Bellinger was originally placed on the 10-day injured list on April 9 with a bruised lower-left leg, which later turned out to entail a hairline fracture. McKinstry was sent to the injured list on April 23 with a right oblique strain.
Bellinger has logged four games for OKC in his rehab stint, having appeared in three games in center field and one game at first base. He has gone 3-for-16 with two homers and three RBI during this time and has made one defensive error in the outfield.
McKinstry has also appeared in four games for OKC, playing all three of second base, left, and right field. He has gone 4-for-12 with two doubles and three walks. McKinstry has not committed any errors in the field.
The current consensus seems to be that both players have progressed enough to return to the parent club in time for the beginning of the Giants series at Dodger Stadium this weekend.
Both players should revert to the roles they had at the beginning of the year—Bellinger hitting in the middle of the order as the everyday centerfielder and McKinstry all over the lineup in several different defensive roles.
Anything can happen as far as how space is made for Bellinger and McKinstry to rejoin the active roster, but there might be a chance that both DJ Peters and Sheldon Neuse are optioned back to Oklahoma City, even though they both hit from the right side of the plate. Since the team currently has 10 different relievers employed on the active roster, another option might be to cut that number back to nine, specifically in light of Tony Gonsolin soon joining the team’s starting pitching rotation.
Conceivably, McKinstry’s return might affect the amount of playing time that Albert Pujols will be seeing, especially if McKinstry becomes the club’s primary option at second base. Since the arrival of Pujols, Max Muncy has made numerous starts at the keystone. Skipper Dave Roberts will certainly mix things around to ensure ample time for everyone, but with McKinstry at second and Muncy at first, Pujols may see his main role reduced to a primary pinch hitter off the bench.
The Dodgers have posted an 8-0 record since officially announcing the signing of Pujols.
Consequently, outfielder AJ Pollock could begin his own rehab assignment as early as next week. Pollock returning to the outfield will definitely influence the amount of playing time that both Yoshi Tsutsugo and Matt Beaty will see.