Cody Bellinger is a two-time All-Star. He’s an NL Rookie of the Year and MVP. So what has happened to the Los Angeles Dodgers slugger?
Well, for one, injuries. A dislocated shoulder that required offseason surgery messed up his timeline for 2021. Then a fracture in his lower leg kept him out of action for 47 games. Really season-altering stuff.
But he’s now been back for two full months and Dodgers fans have seen … nothing from the 26-year-old. He’s hitting .165 with a .546 OPS in 49 games this year. What in the world?
And though the Dodgers’ offense went completely silent on Tuesday night against Lance McCullers and the Houston Astros, it was Bellinger drawing the ire of fans after he went 0-for-2 with runners in scoring position and struck out looking with a chance to tie the game in the bottom of the eighth.
Cody Bellinger is lost at the plate and it’s costing the Dodgers.
It’s a 1-2 count, man! We’re not sitting here pretending like we can hit 98 MPH fastballs, but the lumber’s gotta leave the shoulder if the pitch looks like it’s going to be close! In the eighth inning! With two outs and runners on the corners when you need a run!
Some fans have went as far to say the Dodgers should send Bellinger down in order to help him work out whatever struggles he’s enduring without the pressure of being in the show. Yeah? That’s the plan? Send a former rookie of the year, MVP and World Series champ to Triple-A? It’s not happening.
Yes, the entire offense was at fault, striking out 13 times and going 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position on Tuesday, but during times like these, underperforming players will be in the fans’ crosshairs. There’s almost nobody else to heap blame upon at this point. Bellinger is lagging terribly far behind the rest of the team.
He’s getting utterly dominated in pitcher’s counts (0-2 and 1-2) to the tune of a .155 batting average. He’s hitting .159 with a .622 OPS with RISP and the sample size isn’t that small (56 plate appearances). It seems like he’s on the ropes every time he’s in the box.
So what’s the solution? Move him farther down in the order? He was already batting seventh on Tuesday. Perhaps once Trea Turner is ready to go, lengthening the lineup will provide assistance to Bellinger … even though the lineup is already lengthened tremendously and Turner is merely a luxury.
Or maybe it could mean less playing time for Bellinger until he can find more consistency, since Turner can play second base and center field. In the end, we don’t know, but at this point, every time the Dodgers offense struggles and Bellinger doesn’t produce, he will be the scapegoat, which is why it’s even more important for the slugger to figure it out as soon as possible.