The Los Angeles Dodgers have inched their way close to the top of the NL West despite projections that they would race to the top of it and never leave.
When you consider the rising number of Dodgers stars — not just contributors, but stars — who’ve wound up on the shelf this season, though, it’s impressive they’ve approached the peak at all.
LA is tantalizingly close to approximating their ceiling as we hit late May, and a pair of returns that could come as soon as next week will improve their chances further.
We heard last week that Cody Bellinger was en route, and it seems he hasn’t experienced a setback over the past few days — and he’s bringing a versatile friend along with him to rehab, too.
Prior to Tuesday night’s game (another win fueled by Gavin Lux, not bad), Dave Roberts announced that Bellinger would join the Oklahoma City Dodgers as scheduled this weekend, with Swiss Army knife Zach McKinstry by his side.
The clock is officially on the verge of ticking.
Dodgers Cody Bellinger and Zach McKinstry update
Bellinger, of course, will slot into his regular starting role whenever he’s available, but McKinstry will be returning to a very different bench than the one he left.
Gone are the injured Edwin Rios and AJ Pollock, and in their place sit a cavalcade of fresh faces, from offseason acquisition Sheldon Neuse to last week’s pickups Albert Pujols and Yoshi Tsutsugo. Get that shaking hand ready, Zach.
McKinstry’s versatility helped carry the Dodgers in Bellinger’s stead until he, too, went down on April 23 with a tricky oblique injury. Bucking the trend, though, it appears he’ll be ready to return from his Triple-A assignment first, leaving Bellinger to join him a few days later.
It seems to be all systems go for Belli too, though, who was running at well above 60% just a few days ago.
Presumably, we’ll be saying a temporary goodbye to Luke Raley and DJ Peters when these two Dodgers get re-inscribed on the lineup card, while Matt Beaty will hopefully stay red hot with a lessened role.
Los Angeles may have weathered the early-season storm here, sitting at 24-18, which looks a bit more like what we expected. No matter their record, it’ll be nice to pencil in these two familiar names as the summer heats up.