How Will Cody Bellinger and Zach McKinstry Fit Back into Dodgers’ Lineup?

cody-bellinger-2020-spring-training
(Harry How/Getty Images)

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.

Two of the biggest roster changes for the Dodgers in the coming days will be the returns of outfielder Cody Bellinger and utilityman Zach McKinstry.

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.

8 thoughts on “How Will Cody Bellinger and Zach McKinstry Fit Back into Dodgers’ Lineup?

  1. Peters and Neuse although both hit from the right-side they have been mainly ineffective. I am sure many of us are hoping the experience in the Majors might help Peters shorten his swing and control the strikeouts otherwise his ceiling is AAA. Neuse has not impressed me in the least.
    When Pollock returns I am sure Tsutsugo gets optioned as he has not found his swing and does not have the overall impact of Pujos in the clubhouse and on the bench.
    Seager will be out for several more weeks so the next cut will probably come from the bullpen especially as Gonsolin should be back by then which would eventually stop the bullpen games and the stress on the bullpen.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Gonsolin is eligible to come off of the IL on the 1st of June. So he could be pitching as soon as next week. Bellinger and McKinstry will help immensely. McKinstry has been able to hit all kinds of pitching. Neuse and Peters need to be gone ASAP. Nice win last night. Guess the Stros have a hard time hitting Kershaw when they do not know what is coming. Kratz as much as accused the Dodgers of cheating in an interview the other day, but offered no proof.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Accusations without proof are a growing thing in this country these days. Many feel if you keep repeating the disinformation it becomes legitimate.

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  3. Belli and ZMac are both left handed hitters so I think it’s highly unlikely that they wind up optioning two right handed hitters. I think Peters will go since he would really be helped by playing every day but I would be inclined to think the other one might be Yoshi, unless he has a good game tonight and shows he might be figuring something out. Both guys coming back can play the outfield so there really isn’t any need to keep either Peters or Tsutsugo. I expect Neuse to stay for a little while longer because he’s a multi-positional right handed hitter, even though he really hasn’t made himself very useful up to now.

    I think they’ll probably keep all their pitchers for the weekend series because I believe they’ll need a bullpen game somewhere in there.

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    1. Your probably right but Neuse has been useless and committed a critical error that cost us a game. So I am NOT a Neuse fan as his defense is questionable and his hitting non-existent. Does it matter what side of the plate he hits if he doesn’t? Neuse is hitting or not hitting .180 and his OBP is even below the Mendoza line.196, DJ Peters is at 182 but his OBP is .379 although a couple of his walks were intentional. If your OBP is below .200 you are basically worthless at-bat in my opinion… Plus he is slow.

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      1. Valid points, but I just don’t think they keep Peters once they have two more outfielders available and he’s not the type of guy who will do well as a pinch hitter. Maybe it’s time to see what Estevez can do, since he can play all the positions Neuse does.

        I agree that it doesn’t make any difference what side a guy hits from if he can’t hit, but they saw some potential in Neuse when they got him.

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      2. I agree I think Peters goes to the Farm. I am a big advocate of using the Farm Team to get them some exposure and letting them see what it takes to stick at the MLB level. Plus I believe you learn a lot by watching Betts and Turner prepare. I would love to see Estevez, Mann or Amaya get a glimpse of the MLB. It might help their progress a bit. But then you have to make roster moves so sometimes it’s difficult. Reks and Raley are on the 40 man and I think Raley at least has proven his ceiling is AAA Reks is hitting .300 at OKC.
        I always wonder what information goes back and forth with the Dodgers. They brought up Jones and Bickford although Quackenbush has pitched better in relief.

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