Dodgers: Should Cody Bellinger be benched if healthy in postseason?

Thomas Carannante
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 12: Cody Bellinger #35 of the Los Angeles Dodgers gets a walk in the fourth inning against the San Diego Padres at Dodger Stadium on September 12, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 12: Cody Bellinger #35 of the Los Angeles Dodgers gets a walk in the fourth inning against the San Diego Padres at Dodger Stadium on September 12, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images) /
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Not too long ago, Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts told the media that Cody Bellinger would be relegated to part-time duties.

He certainly wouldn’t be facing left-handed pitchers the rest of the way, and he was likely subject to riding the pine on other occasions due to his severely poor play.

Over the weekend, we learned the former Rookie of the Year and MVP is dealing with a non-displaced fracture in his ribs after colliding with Gavin Lux in the outfield last week, and he was placed on the IL officially on Tuesday night.

Throw that onto the pile of injuries he’s been dealing with over the last year.

First came the dislocated shoulder during the 2020 postseason run, which required offseason surgery and threw off his entire regimen until spring training. Then came the hairline fracture in his lower leg in April, which kept him out for nearly two months.

Those two ailments likely played a huge role in his declining production.

Are the Dodgers going to have to bench Cody Bellinger in the postseason?

Though Bellinger’s lost playing time, he’s still appeared in 16 games this month. And he’s gotten even worse prior to landing on the 10-Day IL, officially, on Tuesday. He seems likely to get a break through the end of the regular season…but what about after?

His average has dropped from .172 to .159. His OPS from .563 to .529. You might say the Dodgers have been totally fine offensively without him and that his value comes on the defensive side of the ball.

And you’d be right! The only problem? Bellinger’s latest injury affects him most when he’s throwing the baseball. You’ve gotta be ffff ….

Assuming this rib issue persists (we have no reason to believe it won’t linger over the next few weeks or even month), what’s Bellinger’s value to this team when the stakes are even higher? When the season is on the line? When you’re trying to make a run at back-to-back World Series titles?

If his defense is now going to take a step back, how can Roberts justify playing him at all unless the team suffers another injury that leaves them with no choice? Playing a hobbled Bellinger hardly makes any sense once the calendar turns and every last win carries greater magnitude than the last.

This is on pace to be an all-time bad season. You have to feel for the 26-year-old, and you’d really hate to see him ride the bench during what could be a memorable season for the Dodgers, but there’s really no other option.

Especially if the team gets stuck in a do-or-die Wild Card Game as soon as the curtain rises.

He’s been given the chance to snap out of it. He’s played 90 games. And another injury is about to interrupt his next chunk of contests. These internal discussions will be tough, but Bellinger should be available off the bench in a majority (if not all) of the team’s postseason games. The Dodgers need to win. Bellinger can’t make amends at this juncture. It’s an ill-fated situation for all.

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