Reinforcements are on the way for the Dodgers! The team is expecting Franklin Gutierrez, Logan Forsythe, and Joc Pederson to return to the big leagues after stints on the Disabled List.
On Tuesday afternoon, the Dodgers announced they have activated outfielder Franklin Gutierrez and have optioned outfielder/first baseman Scott Van Slyke to make room on the MLB roster.
Gutierrez’s activation didn’t come as a shock as reports from this past weekend suggested the trio could be activated as early as this weekend series against the San Diego Padres. However, to the surprise of many Dodger fans was the selection of optioning Scott Van Slyke to Triple-A Oklahoma City.
Gutierrez has missed 19 games due to his left hamstring strain and had yet to make an impact in the Dodgers lineup. Gutierrez is expected to help the Dodgers left-handed pitching woes and figures to resume starting in left field when facing a left-hander.
Now to the news that all Dodger fans are excited about. The news that Bellinger is still with the club and will have more time to continue to prove that he belongs in the big leagues is providing excitement for fans.
Many Dodger fans were speculating that Bellinger would be sent back down after his first week with the Dodgers because of Dave Roberts persistence that the team is not yet ready to commit to them as their everyday left fielder.
Roberts continues to play the young left-hander and said today in an interview on AM570 that Bellinger’s future is still up in the air.
"“Cody will be in the lineup tonight. But we are taking it day by day right now.” Dave Roberts said regarding Bellinger’s future."
Roberts continually reiterates that the Dodgers have a very talented team and when healthy, the fact of the matter is that there is not a lot of playing time for Bellinger with the Dodgers. But Bellinger’s electric style of play is making the decision hard for Roberts to send him down. So now that Bellinger has survived the first activation this week, where does this leave Bellinger?
Now the question comes to how can the Dodgers keep Cody Bellinger in the lineup without taking away from everyday players. There have been speculations that Adrian Gonzalez could land on the DL for the first time in his professional career.
Gonzalez has really struggled at the plate this season and has continued to see a decline in his power numbers. Along with his power struggles, Gonzalez has looked a bit uncomfortable at the plate. This spring and throughout the World Baseball Classic, Gonzalez has been nursing elbow tendinitis soreness.
The injury isn’t anything to be too worried about for Gonzalez, but from the looks of his at-bats early in the season, Gonzalez could use some days off to rest his elbow. Should Gonzalez head to the 10-day DL it opens up a position in the lineup for Bellinger to continue to play on an everyday basis until Gonzalez is fully healthy.
Normally, I’d never suggest Gonzalez taking a DL stint is for the better of the team, but if the team needs to see Bellinger at the major league level for a longer timeframe, this isn’t a half bad solution.
This situation is simple. If Bellinger continues to hit with power, he becomes your everyday left fielder when Gonzalez is back from his 10-days of rest. If Bellinger begins to struggle, then the decision was taken out of your hands, and you send him down to Triple-A to play every day until he’s needed later in the season.
That to me is the biggest necessity. Whether it be in Triple-A or with the Dodgers, Bellinger needs to play every day and continue to get 3 or 4 at-bats a game. Sitting on the bench in the big leagues won’t do him or the team any good.
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What is the likely hood of this happening?
Well considering that Bellinger is getting his first start at first base today, it shows that Roberts is being creative about keeping Bellinger in the lineup.
When Pederson and Forsythe return to the team at some point this week Roberts will be left with a difficult decision. Forsythe will likely lead to a red-hot Chris Taylor demotion. Which frankly, I’m okay with. Like Bellinger, Taylor needs to get everyday at-bats, and with Forsythe back as the everyday second baseman, there’s no room for Taylor in the infield. You won’t be seeing many rest days from Turner or Seager, and Taylor doesn’t have much experience playing the outfield, so for the time being, Triple-A makes sense. That’s not the case for Bellinger where there’s clearly a need for outfield production.
Now Pederson’s activation could go a few different ways. The Dodgers could place Gonzalez on the 10-day DL and buy some more time for Bellinger (possible). They could also part ways with Chris Hatcher and go with a deeper bench than bullpen (unlikely). Or they could send down Bellinger and continue to platoon in left field (likely).
I for one would place Gonzalez on the DL to see if rest will help him recapture his production on the field. If you don’t want to set Gonzalez on the DL, I’d rather see an Andrew Toles demotion than Bellinger. But this is why Dave Roberts gets paid the big bucks.
Quite frankly, this is a decision that could open the door to a lot of scrutiny for Dave Roberts. But Roberts has never been shy about facing the media. The Dodgers may be getting reinforcements this week, but at what cost?