The Dodgers are truly a phenomenon. Just when fans begin to think they will see a full squad on the field, another one bites the dust.
The Dodgers‘ injury woes have never been seen in history before. Last season, they set the record by using the disabled list 28 times. So far this year, it looks like that number will be eclipsed. The latest Dodger to go down is Justin Turner, their hottest hitter. How will the Dodgers survive without their red-bearded third baseman who was hitting just shy of .380?
With so much hype surrounding Corey Seager and Cody Bellinger, or the “C&C boys,” as Charlie Steiner calls them, much of the spotlight has been taken off of Justin Turner. Still, he’s quietly having the best start to a season, not just for him, but by any Dodger probably since Matt Kemp hit .400 and 12 homers during April of 2012. Unfortunately for both, their hot starts were downed by injuries.
Turner pulled up limping when rounding third, trying to score from second in the seventh inning in Thursday’s win over the Miami Marlins. Turner is the 19th man to be sent to the DL for the Dodgers this season. However, this one might hurt the most. No pun intended.
Before his injury, Turner was hitting .379 with 13 doubles, 17 RBI, and an OPS of .946. However, the Dodgers have managed to survive with so many names hitting the DL in the past so they should be able to hold down the fort.
Though Turner is a big blow, some signs point towards the Dodgers managing the absence of their everyday third baseman and number three hitter.
One goes down; one comes back. Logan Forsythe is due back on Tuesday, and the timing could not be any better. Forsythe was hitting just under .300 and demolishing left-handed pitching before he went down. His presence from the right side of the plate will put ease to the worried minds of Dodger fans. He will also likely fill the void of a proper leadoff man the Dodgers have lacked during his absence.
Turner’s injury also makes the Dodgers’ front office look ingenious. During the offseason, many Dodger fans were speculating a trade for Brian Dozier. Instead, the Dodgers went and got a more versatile Logan Forsythe who can also play third. Forsythe is now making his rehab starts at third.
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Forsythe’s availability also frees up Kike Hernandez, who can share time with a struggling Joc Pederson in center field. Chris Taylor and Chase Utley will likely form a tandem at second, giving both more at-bats. Offensively, Taylor is swinging a hot bat and can make up for some of the loss in production. Utley, on the other hand, is a significant drop off in production, although he too is starting to swing a hot bat.
Defensively, Turner will be missed. Forsythe is a more than capable third baseman, but the hole comes at second base. When Turner occupied third and Forsythe second, they combined for a minuscule three errors for a sub-par Dodgers defense. However, Chris Taylor has made five errors in his limited time, some of those leading to big innings for the opposition. Utley isn’t as sharp as he should be, posting a .971 fielding percentage as a peripheral player.
The vacancy of the Dodgers’ new “butter and egg” man means it’s time for the old “butter and egg” man to step up. Adrian Gonzalez has been heavily criticized for his slow start. It could’ve been a result of nagging injuries, or that time has finally caught up to Mr. Consistency. However, hopefully, the injury part is gone now that Gonzalez is back.
If there is a player on the roster who can try to shoulder Turner’s old production, it’s his home run celebration partner. Gonzalez’s production has been sorely missed by the Dodgers thus far, so he is due to contribute to the cause. He won’t hit .300, 30 homers, and drive in 100 runs like he used to, but one way or another, he will find a way to become a pillar of offensive consistency.
Justin Turner’s production cannot be replaced by any one player, but the Dodger have the pieces to try and replicate his production during his absence. Logan Forsythe will likely be used as the primary third baseman, while Chris Taylor and Chase Utley man second.
Meanwhile, Adrian Gonzalez will have to return to his old-self as a staple in the middle of the lineup. The Dodgers will need to find a way to scrape out wins as important series against the Cardinals and Cubs approach because they sit within striking distance to reclaim the lead for the NL West.