Why isn’t Edwin Rios getting more playing time for Dodgers?

Thomas Carannante
LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 20: Edwin Rios #43 of the Los Angeles Dodgers gets a pat on the helmet from Cody Bellinger as they celebrate the one run home run against starting pitcher Charlie Morton #50 of the Atlanta Braves during the fifth inning at Dodger Stadium on April 20, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 20: Edwin Rios #43 of the Los Angeles Dodgers gets a pat on the helmet from Cody Bellinger as they celebrate the one run home run against starting pitcher Charlie Morton #50 of the Atlanta Braves during the fifth inning at Dodger Stadium on April 20, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images) /
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In limited playing time, Edwin Rios has given the Los Angeles Dodgers more offensive production than they could’ve hoped for, especially after coming off shoulder surgery last year.

Across 14 games (38 plate appearances), the 28-year-old is hitting .270 with an .830 OPS (132 OPS+), six runs scored, three homers and nine RBI. With runners in scoring position, he’s hitting .333 with a 1.000 OPS, four runs scored, one homer and seven RBI. He’s clearly been an asset.

Of late, that’s had fans wondering why he’s not getting more playing time, especially with Max Muncy, Justin Turner, Cody Bellinger and Gavin Lux struggling to begin 2022. Rios can play the corner outfield and corner infield spots, so it’s not like he isn’t versatile. Manager Dave Roberts can find a spot for him in the lineup.

Then again, it’s not exactly helpful to bench any of those aforementioned guys because it’s imperative they work out the kinks early and often to get back on track. And for a guy like Lux, the Dodgers still want to see what his ceiling is. Part-time work won’t do that.

But how much longer can the Dodgers allow this to continue? Turner (65 OPS+), Muncy (85 OPS+), Bellinger (91 OPS+) and Lux (97 OPS+) are all below league average and have combined for an eye-opening 116 strikeouts.

With LA largely lacking power/production on the left side of the plate (with the exception of Freddie Freeman), wouldn’t it help to give Muncy and Bellinger more frequent breathers to create more run for Rios?

Does Edwin Rios deserve more playing time for the Dodgers?

Nobody’s saying Rios deserves everyday reps, but perhaps time in at least half of the team’s games? Absolutely. There’s a reason the Dodgers held onto him and let a number of other bench players walk in free agency these last few years (Albert Pujols, Joc Pederson, Kiké Hernandez). They like his potential, and now he’s beginning to show it in an extremely impressive manner.

Rios has played in just 39 games since the start of 2021, is coming off shoulder surgery that ended his 2021 campaign last May, and is still putting up solid numbers with staggered playing time (which hardly helps guys who are still developing and trying to assimilate into a role).

Admittedly, this is a small sample size and Rios’ numbers could crater with a couple of poor showings, but fans are certainly wondering what his production might look like if he got more than eight full games during the 2022 season.

Something for Roberts to consider? At the very least, especially if Muncy and Bellinger can’t find any sort of consistency.

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