Roster Decisions May Start to Become Easier for Dodgers

All season long, it seems as if many folks, including ourselves, were seemingly trying to stir a bit a controversy each time the management crew of the Dodgers was faced with making a difficult decision regarding the club’s 25-man roster. Yet, in reality, despite all the frequent entries on the disabled list so far, the subsequent roster moves have paid huge dividends. What’s more, if only because of the increasing sample sizes of production, many of the impending personnel decisions may even start to become easier as the season progresses.

Since the midway point of 2017 Cactus league play, utility man Chris Taylor‘s name has been mentioned frequently whenever discussing the Dodgers’ 25-man roster. Taylor was in a battle with teammate Enrique Hernandez for the squad’s final position player spot, and ironically enough, missed out on being included on the Opening Day squad because of his inability to effectively man center field. But considering his production since being recalled in mid-April, it’s now difficult to even give him a much deserved day of rest.

Among all players on the active roster, Taylor is leading the club with a .327 average and a .424 on-base percentage, and has already tallied six home runs, seven doubles and 19 RBI — all solid numbers while keeping in mind that he’s been hitting a ton in the leadoff spot lately. Entering Sunday’s finale against the Cubs, his OPS+ is 167, and his oWAR has risen to +1.4 — not bad for a player who was once viewed as a secondary substitute infield option. And on top of all the wonderful offensive statistics, he’s been surprisingly decent with his glove, wherever skipper Dave Roberts has placed him on the diamond.

Even with the recent emergence of Hernandez and veteran infielder Chase Utley offensively, along with the upcoming return of third baseman Justin Turner from the disabled list, Roberts insists that Taylor will continue to get his reps.

“He’ll play,” Roberts said. “I’ll find him at-bats. He’s earned it.”

Hernandez is hitting .306/.390/.556 since May 8, lifting his batting average from .214 to .250. Utley is batting .341/.412/.614 since May 9, ballooning his average from .098 to .222. Unfortunately for Hernandez, though, he may be the odd man out when Turner is reinstated, bearing in mind that Brett Eibner is optioned when Joc Pederson is activated when his concussion symptoms have subsided. That’s supposing any other injuries don’t crop up between then and now. Yet considering the frequent fluctuation of players on the DL, a prospective demotion for Hernandez probably wouldn’t last long at all.

Even on the starting pitching front, for what was once an overcrowded group of confusion, especially at the tail-end of the rotation, things are beginning to work themselves out. If something unfortunate happens to come out of Brandon McCarthy‘s recent struggle with tendinitis, lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu‘s still around to slide in from the bullpen, assuming that management feels the need to give Julio Urias a little more time at Oklahoma City to sharpen his command.

And with the count still holding steady at eight in the relief corps, the club could always reduce that number to seven without feeling any negative effects, specifically during a phase where the starters are providing quality length.

In the end, any forthcoming roster moves will still require the same amount of critical thought, yet the current performances of several players, Taylor in particular, should make such personnel decisions much more easier than the choices faced earlier in the season.

(FOLLOW DENNIS ON TWITTER: @THINKBLUEPC)
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Dodgers Roster: A Few Early Season Surprises

I think if I had to name the one thing I love the most about baseball, it’s that it just so darn unpredictable. Almost a third of the way into the season, there are quite a few things that no fan of the Dodgers could have predicted.

Take last night’s game, for example. After Rich Hill could not throw a strike to save his life on Wednesday, and the Cardinals took a lead that the Dodgers couldn’t recover from, it looked like deja vu all over again. The Dodgers had struggled to get runs against the Cardinals in the previous two games. They fell behind 3-0 early. But hey! Then Kenta Maeda got his stuff together — so much so that Dave Roberts let him bat in fourth inning, down one with two outs. After fouling off pitch after pitch, he ended up hitting a two-run single to put the Dodgers ahead for good.

Subsequently, Maeda followed up with a 1-2-3 fifth inning. The Dodgers scored two more runs in the bottom of the frame, knocking Michael Wacha from the game. Maeda was replaced in the sixth with Hyun-Jin Ryu. Ryu seemingly is the odd man out in the Dodgers rotation with the return of Maeda from the DL. Before the game, Roberts talked about it was a “very delicate” situation, and that the possibility of Ryu being long man in the bullpen was discussed.

The first experiment with doing just that went very well. Ryu only gave up two hits over four innings of work in his first ever relief appearance. He struck out two, walked one and threw a total of 51 pitches. Whether he will remain in that roll long term, time will tell. But it’s not something anyone saw coming at the start of the season.

Let’s talk about Chris Taylor, shall we? Originally left off the club in favor of Enrique Hernandez to start the season, he has made himself indispensable to the team. He has continued his hot hitting that started in spring training. Currently, his slash line is .344/.445/.581/1.026 with five home runs. He’s played games at second, third, shortstop, and has now forced the Dodgers to give him starts in the outfield, too, just to keep his bat in the lineup. The fact that he doesn’t play much outfield is why he was left off the roster in the first place. The last two nights he has started in center field, however, and has really held his own, even making a spectacular diving catch to rob Dexter Fowler of a hit.

Taylor has become something of a folk hero to Dodgers fans. On a team that boasts some of the best talent in the majors, it’s CT3 that has won over many a heart. His quiet, unassuming way he plays and his hot bat have consistently brought happiness to Dodgers fans. The fact that he seems to be a Giants killer doesn’t hurt either. While some complained that Zach Lee should not have been traded from the organization, its clear that LA stole a gem from the Mariners.

The top three pitchers on the staff currently are Clayton Kershaw (duh), Alex Wood and Brandon McCarthy. Only one of those is not surprising. Fans probably also would not have wanted to predict that the Dodgers would be in third place at this point in the season either, or that it would be Colorado and Arizona ahead of them. Colorado seems to be the real deal. I do have a feeling Arizona will fall off as the season progresses. The Dodgers have too much talent and depth to remain in third place. Their record at this point extrapolates to a 95 win season. They will be fine, even though we are sure to encounter many more surprises before the postseason begins.

(FOLLOW ANDY ON TWITTER: @DODGERGIRLINPA)

 

Dodgers Roster: How a Few Injuries Have Opened the Doors to Early Success

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(Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press)

Instead of putting together our normal weekend injury report, we thought perhaps a more interesting approach would be looking at a few of the positives that have resulted for the Dodgers from several of the unfortunate injuries that have occurred during the first six weeks of the season.

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Dodgers Place Justin Turner on Disabled List, Recall Brett Eibner

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(Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA TODAY Sports)

The Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday afternoon placed third baseman Justin Turner on the 10-day disabled list with a right hamstring strain and recalled outfielder Brett Eibner from Triple-A Oklahoma City.

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Injuries Continue to Haunt Dodgers

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It just doesn’t seem that the Dodgers can catch a break. On the same night that saw Adrian Gonzalez return from his first-ever stint on the disabled list, it appears that the Dodgers might lose their All-Star caliber third baseman Justin Turner.

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Dodgers Head to San Francisco After Missed Opportunities in Colorado

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Hindsight is always 20/20. Of course. But I bet that Dave Roberts wishes he would’ve pulled a different play in the top of the first inning yesterday. Instead of having Chris Taylor swing away, he called for a sacrifice squeeze. The Dodgers already had two runs in, and two runners on base. Instead of getting to the rookie pitcher early, Taylor hit into a inning ending double-play where Utley was tagged out trying to go home and Yasmani Grandal was tagged trying to head into third.

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Monday Musings: Is Cody Bellinger in the Majors to Stay?

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If you followed any of my posts last year here at TBPC, you’ll know that most of them were titled to match a song that struck me as being relevant to whatever was happening that week in Dodgers baseball. While I haven’t continued with that this season, a song keeps popping into my head about this situation with Cody Bellinger, Adrian Gonzalez, and aging players being replaced by younger ones — Its Sad To Belong by England Dan and John Ford Coley. You know the one — “Yes it’s sad to belong to someone else when the right one comes along.”

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Dodgers Roster: Making Cases for Cody Bellinger and Chris Taylor

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(Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez/USA TODAY Sports)

While many would think the news of Joc Pederson and Logan Forsythe returning from the disabled list would spotlight the majority current headlines in Los Angeles, most fans of the Dodgers appear to be more intrigued by the impending moves that are necessary to create the space on the 25-man roster.

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More Roster Changes Ahead for Dodgers

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(Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale/USA TODAY Sports)

By the time the Dodgers head into San Diego this weekend for a three-game divisional series, the team’s 25-man roster may have a bit of a different look, most specifically with the return of three position players — Franklin Gutierrez, Joc Pederson and Logan Forsythe.

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Dodgers Hope to Ride Momentum Wave Through Current Homestand

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We are now fully one month into the Dodgers‘ season, and it ended up a little better than some might have thought a week ago. A four game winning streak, including one pretty epic comeback victory to end the month, will do that for you. The Dodgers sit at 14-12, third in the NL West, two games out of first. Not bad, considering.

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