After the announcement of the 25-man roster, many fans were not pleased with Andrew Toles being left off the roster in favor of Joc Pederson. Despite the backlash from fans, it was the correct decision and here’s why.
Andrew Toles, unfortunately, went down with a major knee injury early in his 2017 campaign. It was a blessing in disguise for some as Cody Bellinger and Chris Taylor both got shots to play every day and emerge as stars. It may have been good for everyone else, but for Toles who had finally gotten the break he deserved as a starter, it was a tough situation for him.
He earned the starting left field job going into the 2017 season and many did not know if he would be the same player going into the 2018 season. But this spring he more than proved he was ready to be back in the bigs again. Toles looked like he did not lose a step at all during his rehab. Yet, he was still left off of the opening day roster.
So much more goes into choosing a 25-man roster than just choosing the 25 best players in your organization. For example, Walker Buehler is definitely one of the thirteen best pitchers in the organization but still finds himself starting the season in the minors which just goes to shows how much more goes into it.
If it were based solely on performance and who has been the better player as of late, Toles would have been a no-brainer over the struggling Pederson. Luckily that’s not what it is based on and Pederson will start the season in Los Angeles with Toles in Oklahoma City.
Why is this a good decision?
Here is reason number one. Reps. Whoever got the spot on the roster would see limited playing time with the Dodgers, because of the depth in the outfield. This lack of field time would be harmful to a player like Toles, who is returning from a major injury.
He needs the opportunity to build confidence in his new and improved knee and giving him steady reps in the outfield will help acclimate him to that knee and build that confidence in running full speed and doing everything without the worry of re-injuring himself.
If he would have made the big league roster who knows how long it would take for him to get the reps in LA that he is going to get in OKC. Which means it would be to his benefit starting in AAA in order to build his confidence in that repaired knee.
Secondly, Joc should be rewarded for his performance last October. He absolutely balled out in the World Series and would have likely been the MVP if the Dodgers would have won. His performance showed just how important he could be to the Dodgers when he is on.
His relationship with Dave Roberts is among one of the most notable on the team and may have been another reason for the decision to keep him on the roster. When he is on he is the spark plug for this team and Roberts knows that and has tried a lot of tactics to keep his lows to a minimum and maximize his high points.
Keeping Joc with the big league squad will help him a lot with his morale. He is a guy that feeds off energy and sending him to the minors for the second year in a row, especially after his special WS
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performance could be demoralizing and derailing to the young lefties career.
Meanwhile, Andrew Toles is so much more flexible mentally and quite frankly has better mental toughness than Joc, and sending Toles to the minors would not affect him nearly as much as Joc.
Toles is a blue-collar gut and just does what he is told and does a darn good job wherever he is and whatever he is asked to do. If he is asked to be an everyday starter he will be productive, asked to platoon he will be productive or asked to start in the minors he will undoubtedly be productive down there.
Now with all this said, if Joc continues on his downward trend that started in the spring, Toles will be the first man up. If an injury occurs to Matt Kemp or any other outfielder, Toles will be the first man up.
Having Joc start off in the bigs was the correct decision for now. We don’t need to rush Toles onto the field. Let him get his feet wet with his new knee in the minors before calling him back up to the club. In the future Joc may be traded or in the minors, giving Toles the opportunity he earned this spring, or as I have stated in the past, Toles can make his way up with one less reliever in the bullpen.