Dodgers: Alex Verdugo Should be Called Up and Starting
At the beginning of the season, the Dodgers had a plethora of outfield options that swayed the Dodgers away from bringing up top prospect Alex Verdugo. Now, times have changed and Alex Verdugo needs to be up and starting with the big league club.
Alex Verdugo is balling out in Oklahoma City. Quite frankly there is not anything left for him to prove in the minors. Verdugo is currently slashing .339/.390/.486 with Triple-A OKC. The 22-year-old Arizona native has seen limited time with the big league club. In those 14 games in the bigs this year he has fourteen hits with six of which went for extra bases.
He will without a doubt be a September call-up but it wouldn’t hurt to have him up now and helping this offense that has hit a dry spell as of late aside from last night’s outburst. When he eventually does make his way back to Los Angeles, he should get a real shot to become an everyday starter. Player struggles have opened up this opportunity for Verdugo.
Max Muncy has all but fallen off a cliff since his monster first half. Meaning he has been relegated to a bench role with spot starts. Which means Cody Bellinger gets his old gig of being the everyday first baseman back. That takes one outfielder away from the equation.
Yasiel Puig is and should be an everyday starter. Joc Pederson has shown enough to be considered an everyday starter, but he has still been getting days off against left-handed pitching. Matt Kemp is slowly getting it back together but before last night he was on the same page as Muncy. Chris Taylor currently leads the National League in strikeouts.
Alex Verdugo should get a shot to claim a starting job. One thing every outfielder on this team has in common is their lack of offensive production against lefties. This season in the minors Verdugo has been better against LHP than he has against RHP. Even the supposed lefty mashers Kike Hernandez and Matt Kemp have had reverse splits.
Verdugo is a pure hitter. His power numbers will not wow anybody, but this offense is perfectly fine when it comes to power. In his brief stint up with the team, Verdugo was putting together some of the best at-bats of the season. His bat would bring something new to this lineup.
Obviously, the talent in the minors is nowhere near that of the bigs but, Verdugo is playing so much better than everyone on the field and it really isn’t close. He needs at least an opportunity to prove himself in the bigs. On top of the offensive prowess he would bring, Verdugo would probably be the best defensive outfielder not named Yasiel Puig.
Chris Taylor was great last season, but this season he has been sub-par and should no longer be an everyday starter. Kiké Hernandez has been good in a bench role and is the Swiss army knife that he is. However, he should not be getting everyday starts, let alone hitting in the four hole.
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If not a starter all the time, Verdugo should at least get called up to become the starter against left-handed-pitching because there is no question that the Dodgers could use that at the moment. Against LHP the starting outfield should be Kemp-Verdugo-Puig with Hernandez mixing in with one of them every once in a while. Even against RHP Verdugo should see at least a shot.
The outfield has not been as productive as they were to begin the season, and at some point, a change needs to be made. I believe that Verdugo should be that change. The Dodgers need to do whatever they can to spark the offense. They are in the midst of a battle for the division and any little spark would help.
The spark of Muncy’s phenomenal first half has worn out. Machado has been underwhelming up until Wednesday night. Taylor has been having some very bad at-bats that kill momentum for the team. Verdugo could help this offense combat that.
He plays the game with a passion that has been somewhat missing this season. This team is not the same as last year. Once they are behind it feels over, last season it felt like they were able to come back from any deficit.
This offense very clearly needs a shot of adrenaline in its arm. Alex Verdugo could be just that. He puts together tough at-bats, plays great defense and is something different in a littered lineup with power guys. Verdugo should not only be called-up but he should get a shot at being one of the guys in the outfield for the rest of the season into the playoffs.