Why did Dodgers bench Cody Bellinger? Here’s a healthy conspiracy theory

Thomas Carannante
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 6: Cody Bellinger #35 of the Los Angeles Dodgers bats during the game against the Colorado Rockies at Dodger Stadium on July 6, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. The Dodgers defeated the Rockies 2-1. (Photo by Rob Leiter/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 6: Cody Bellinger #35 of the Los Angeles Dodgers bats during the game against the Colorado Rockies at Dodger Stadium on July 6, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. The Dodgers defeated the Rockies 2-1. (Photo by Rob Leiter/MLB Photos via Getty Images) /
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Manager Dave Roberts made a manager decision this week. He decided to bench Cody Bellinger for the final two games of the Los Angeles Dodgers‘ series against the Milwaukee Brewers. Why? Well, that’s what fans are trying to figure out.

Roberts told reporters on Tuesday night that he wanted to give Belli “a little bit of a reset” because “he’s been grinding a lot.” That’s interesting because … Bellinger got off Aug. 3 against the Giants and then Aug. 11 against the Royals. That’s two breathers in about a week. Now he’s getting four total in the span of just over two weeks.

Overall, Bellinger’s rested just 10 games out of the team’s 115, so Roberts isn’t wrong. The kid’s been grinding! But why on earth is now the time to sprinkle in more rest? Bellinger’s hit three homers this month and has driven in nine runs! He raised his slugging percentage 21 points since Aug. 1! Though he’s 0 for his last 7 with four strikeouts, that kind of awful production these last few years hasn’t stopped the Dodgers from trotting him out there every night.

Roberts’ choice of words in regard to a “reset” doesn’t exactly hold any weight, either. Bellinger’s been pretty much just as disappointing at the plate as he’s been since 2020. He’s essentially been in the same boat this year since the second week of May, too.

Not to get too conspiracy-y … but could this be a plan to remove Bellinger from the starting postseason lineup in favor of Chris Taylor in center field with Joey Gallo/Trayce Thompson in left?

The Dodgers benching Cody Bellinger won’t solve anything. Unless …

What is this “slump” the LA Times speaks of? Bellinger essentially has the same numbers since mid-June. Nothing has changed. That’s why we can’t help but wonder if the Dodgers are plotting a coup for Taylor, whose bat in the postseason will likely be more impactful than Bellinger’s.

Is it that crazy to speculate? Taylor’s walk-off home run propelled the Dodgers in the NL Wild Card Game over the St. Louis Cardinals last year. His NLCS performance against the Atlanta Braves was incredible, too (he slugged 3 homers, drove in 9 runs, stole 3 bags, and went 10-for-21 overall).

But wait! Bellinger was a top playoff performer last year as well! He went 12-for-34, hit a homer, drove in seven runs, stole five bases across all three series. He also logged two of the clutchest hits with his Game 5 heroics in the NLDS against the Giants and his three-run homer in Game 3 of the NLCS against the Braves after one of the most miserable seasons in modern MLB history.

But are the Dodgers going to bank on that happening again with Bellinger not showing signs of a healthy turnaround? Isn’t Taylor the more proven commodity — at least consistently in the regular season — after these last few years? And since they might prefer Gallo’s defense in left (as well as his offensive potential)/Thompson’s more consistent bat (despite it not being a proven constant beyond his ~40 games with the team this year), might that alignment with Taylor in center field be a better all-around starting lineup with Belli as a luxury off the bench (defensive replacement, lefty bat to face some right-handed pitching)? Or is Taylor in left and Bellinger in center still the way to go because of his elite defense?

It’s just all bizarre. Benching Bellinger against a playoff contender such as the Brewers — one the Dodgers could very well face — feels misplaced. If he needed a rest, why not wait until the Marlins series this weekend, which is sandwiched in between two meetings against Milwaukee? Maybe we’re thinking too hard here, but Bellinger’s performance offered nothing out of the ordinary to warrant a “breather” or a “mental rest.”

And it just so happens Taylor made a web gem and hit a homer on Tuesday night. We’re just thinkin’, that’s all.

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