Despite several lingering injury concerns, the Los Angeles Dodgers remain in striking distance to capture a ninth-straight National League West division crown. With 11 games left on the regular-season schedule, Los Angeles trails the San Francisco Giants by just one full game heading into Wednesday’s action.
Injuries have hit the Dodgers hard this year in multiple areas. Among the most recent concerns is the makeup of the outfield, as Cody Bellinger was placed on the injured list on Thursday with a left rib fracture. Chris Taylor remains out of the lineup on Wednesday night with a neck injury, and Gavin Lux even missed time last week with a minor forearm injury.
The good news is that AJ Pollock was activated on Wednesday, although he is not included on the initial lineup card for the evening game. Instead, Luke Raley gets another start in right field with Mookie Betts manning center and Lux in left. Skipper Dave Roberts told reporters before Wednesday’s game that Pollock would be available off the bench and would likely start in the finale against Colorado on Thursday.
The other good news is that Betts has been playing regularly and hasn’t shown any obvious signs of the hip injury that has hampered him most of the season. Since returning from the injured list on August 26, Betts has slashed .267/.373/.442 with four homers and 11 RBI. However, over his last 16 games, he has hit .328/.408/.475, which is much more promising.
Bellinger’s move to the injured list was not surprising, whether the severity of his injury required the stay or not. His average recently fell below the .160 mark, leaving many fans wondering if his recent inclusion in the lineup was warranted, even if it meant inserting someone like Raley or Steven Souza Jr. in his place.
Indeed, the condition of Bellinger’s shoulder played a significant role in his performance this year, but it still does not give the team an excuse for including him on the daily lineup card. If he’s going to reach base just 2.3 times over every 10 AB, it’s time to think about other options.
Looking ahead to the playoffs, concerns right now surround Taylor, who has been dealing with neck soreness for weeks. Pollock’s injury history also lingers in the back of many people’s minds, even though he’s amid one of his most productive seasons in several years.
If Betts, Pollock and Taylor can stay healthy, the Los Angeles outfield unit is as good as any club that will be playoff bound. However, should one of those players be absent from the lineup in the postseason, there will be cause for concern, especially if Bellinger stays out of the picture.
Coincidentally, the Dodgers designated righty reliever Shane Greene for assignment to make room for Pollock.