The Los Angeles Dodgers received a double dose of bad news Saturday despite winning their fourth in a row. The good news is that the Dodgers offense is finally heating up fiercely after going through a troubling spell. They started off the year going 13-2, then the injuries started rolling in and they dropped 15 of their next 20 games. That patch was rough because of the long list of injuries in the last month. The Dodgers who missed time in may, besides Caleb Ferguson (out for the season) and Tommy Kahnle (expected back after September first, at the least), is long and distinguished. This list includes Mookie Betts, Gavin Lux, Cody Bellinger, Corey Knebel, AJ Pollock, Joe Kelly, Brusdar Graterol, Edwin Rios, Tony Gonsolin, Zach McKinstry, David Price, Dustin May, Scott Alexander, and Yadier Alvarez. It would be hard for any team to win with that many injuries to key players.
The Dodgers are not just any team. They are the reigning World Champions with the deepest team in baseball. Consequently, these heating Dodgers now find themselves only one game out of first place in the NL West. This is thanks, in large part, to their starting pitching. It ranks at the top, in all of baseball, for average starter outing length–more than five innings. The offense finally showed signs of coming out of their recent funk when they threw up 14 runs against the Los Angeles Angels in their lone win of that series. After an off day, the Dodgers started their current homestand. This is where the Dodgers offense has really come alive. They have 38 hits over their last four games, which they won all of. They also scored 29 runs in those same four games.
Double Dose of Disaster
On Saturday, the Dodgers got some bad news. After missing a week due to tweaking his hamstring during the big game against the Angels, Pollock returned to the starting lineup. Unfortunately, he aggravated the injury running from first to third on an Austin Barnes double Friday night. So he officially hit the IL on Saturday morning. During the game on Saturday evening, things went from bad to worse when Corey Seager took a fastball square on the back of his hand. Late Saturday night, x-rays showed that it was broken. So he will miss at least a month while that heals.
A Silver Lining, if There Is One
There is no silver lining to the heating Dodgers losing yet another two key players to injury. Having said that, however, the Dodgers are going to get some key pieces back in the next week while they finish off their series with the Miami Marlins and then host the Arizona Diamondbacks for four games. They will get Gonsolin, McKinstry, Price, and Alvarez back. Over the next week, you can probably expect to see Gavin Lux shift over to short and Sheldon Neuse take over at second. Once McKinstry comes back, you will likely see him take over at second. The future Dodgers infield will likely be Max Muncy at first, McKinstry at second, Lux at short, and Seager at third. So, this stretch can be a trial run of 3/4 of that infield while Seager is out.
We could also see Chris Taylor move to short and DJ Peters, who just got his second MLB hit and first two RBI Saturday night, take over in center. Regardless of the defensive setup, the Dodgers are getting hot again. They have an opportunity to complete their second sweep in a row Sunday–right before playing a struggling Diamondbacks club for four. After that series, they will head to the bay area and play three against the San Francisco Giants. Odds are, that the Dodgers will be back in first place in the West during that series, if not before. Anything can happen, so we shall see.
There are two new Dodgers that will be contributing off the bench. First is “The Machine,” Albert Pujols–yet another former MVP on the Dodgers, which makes four, though Pujols is far removed from those days. At 41 years old, Pujols is not the batter he once was. He is, however, a legend in the game and a hero in the clubhouse. Not many people think there will be a second Hall of Fame ballot with his name on it. Pujols still has power and will pose a threat off the bench as he moves up All-Time lists.
Yoshi Tsutsugo is the second player. Tsutsugo was just acquired from the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday after clearing waivers. He was a big star in Japan but has been pretty disappointing in his year and a half in Tampa Bay. The Dodgers have had great success in finding players that may just need to change their approach at the plate a little in order to bloom. People like Justin Turner and Max Muncy, to name a couple. We will see how that experiment works out. At $430k for his prorated league minimum, it is worth a shot, as the Dodgers see it.
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Mookie Betts, Gavin Lux, Cody Bellinger, Corey Knebel, AJ Pollock, Joe Kelly, Brusdar Graterol, Edwin Rios, Tony Gonsolin, Zach McKinstry, David Price, Dustin May, Scott Alexander, Yadier Alvarez, Albert Pujols, Caleb Ferguson, Tommy Kahnle, Yoshi Tsutsugo, Chris Taylor, DJ Peters, Max Muncy, Justin Turner, Austin Barnes, Corey Seager, Sheldon Neuse