While some of the main foundations of the Dodgers’ roster have stayed the same over the course of the 2021 season, there are many that have taken on a new look, including an outfield crew that now features Gavin Lux.
With a healthy AJ Pollock and Mookie Betts, Los Angeles is one step closer to having the original outfield unit it ran onto the field Opening Day. However, based on what’s happening with Cody Bellinger, we might not see the Betts/Bellinger/Pollock unit in full force again until sometime next year.
Nevertheless, all signs are pointing to Chris Taylor being healthy after dealing with a neck injury for several weeks. With Bellinger struggling, throwing Lux into the mix provides a little bit more of punch than having to settle for someone like Luke Raley, Zach Reks or Zach McKinstry.
I guess we’ll never know the adjustments that Lux made during his latest stint in Triple-A, but since he was recalled to the big-league club on September 10, he has been nothing short of remarkable on offense. Over those 12 games, he has slashed .421/.522/.605 with two doubles, a triple, a homer, nine RBI and 10 runs scored. More importantly, his seven walks over that short period suggest he’s showing more discipline in the box.
While the move to try Lux at third base seemingly backfired, having him play in the outfield has paid some dividends. He made a few several decent plays in left field early in the week, but the real web gem came in the fourth inning of Friday’s game when he tracked down a ball hit by Arizona’s Daulton Varsho deep in the center field alley.
What’s interesting is the speculation of Bellinger’s role if or when he returns. It’s probably safe to assume that Raley is optioned back to play for Oklahoma City in the extended Triple-A season, but Bellinger could be used strictly for his defensive prowess if Lux stays hot with the bat.
Initially, it appeared as if Bellinger wouldn’t need much more time than the mandatory 10 days to come back from his broken rib, but the media reports on Friday suggested otherwise.
“It’s progressing, probably not at the pace we would all like,” Roberts said of Bellinger’s injury on Friday. “Progress is a good thing. But I just don’t want to box him in to playing on Tuesday.”
At this stage of the game, it’s probably not critical to have Bellinger in the initial lineup, although his defensive skills are certainly a huge plus late in games.
However, if Lux continues to make highlight reel plays out there in center field, it could change the dynamics of the way Roberts approaches his outfield options for the remainder of the 2021 season.