The injury bug that plagued the Dodgers in 2016 has come back and bitten them again early this season. Injuries to Joc Pederson, Logan Forsythe, and Franklin Gutierrez forced the Dodgers to call up top prospect Cody Bellinger this past week.
Through five games at the major league level, Bellinger is 5 for 17 with five strikeouts, three walks, and two home runs for the Dodgers. Other than the strikeouts, they are pretty impressive numbers for a 21-year-old getting his first taste of major league pitching. Initially he just looked a bit anxious, which is understandable given the circumstances, but he has not look overmatched in the batter’s box.
Dave Roberts announced that he would most likely be sending Bellinger back to the Dodgers’ Triple-A affiliate the Oklahoma City Dodgers, when Gutierrez and Pederson come off the DL early next week. This news was somewhat disappointing to many fans that would like to have seen Bellinger remain in Los Angeles with the major league club.
However, I believe the fans should trust the plan that the front office and Dave Roberts have for Bellinger. The front office has done a good job managing their younger players by allowing them to develop before relying on them to be key contributors. (see Julio Urias and Corey Seager)
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Sending Bellinger down to Triple-A will allow him to get more regular playing time and consistent at-bats. These opportunities are just not available to him right now at the major league level due to the depth of the Los Angeles outfield and reliance on Adrian González as the everyday first baseman.
Playing time should be the priority for both Bellinger and Los Angeles, making Oklahoma City the best place for him to be for now. If the production from left field continues to be sub par, I would not be surprised if the team recalled him on a more permanent basis sooner rather than later. But until that happens, I think that Dave Roberts is doing the right thing for the team, and Bellinger himself, by sending him to Oklahoma City.
Make no mistake though, Bellinger is ready to play consistently in the major leagues. I believe that he would be an everyday starter on the majority of teams right now. But as of now, he just has to be patient and wait for the next opening on Los Angeles’ roster. Dodger fans should be very excited about the future.