Could Joey Gallo’s emergence change Dodgers’ ideal playoff lineup?
Could is the keyword here. We’re not getting ahead of ourselves, but the subject of Joey Gallo is one worth monitoring for the Los Angeles Dodgers, especially as Cody Bellinger’s offense remains largely stagnant.
Bellinger was benched for the middle two contests of the Dodgers’ four-game set against the Milwaukee Brewers, with manager Dave Roberts claiming the slugger needed a “reset.” Sure, Bellinger’s been struggling a bit over the last week or so, but we wondered if that was any different than his various awful stretches throughout the 2022 campaign.
Since Gallo’s arrival in LA, Bellinger has now gotten four days off in the span of exactly two weeks. Think that’s a coincidence? Maybe it is since we’re approaching September and rest will be paramount with the postseason a lot closer than many of us realize … but then you have to factor in Gallo’s production so far and potential impact as the weeks progress.
Though two of his six hits have come off position players, Gallo’s belted two very crucial homers as well as a double for the Dodgers since coming to LA. In 10 games, he’s 6-for-26 with 3 homers, 5 RBI, 3 walks, a .949 OPS and 155 OPS+.
You heard Dodgers general manager Brandon Gomes. The team believes Gallo’s All-Star talent level is still there. And if it can be unlocked, it very much seems like he’ll be out-performing Bellinger on the offensive end in short order. If that’s the case, does that change Roberts’ ideal playoff lineup?
Could Joey Gallo’s emergence change the Dodgers’ ideal playoff lineup?
You just have to wonder if Bellinger becomes a part-time player once the playoffs arrive. And it likely all depends whether the team values his center field defense that much. Belli undoubtedly covers a ton of ground out there, but is a Chris Taylor/Gallo combo in center/left a more wholesome approach to balance out the offense and defense?
Again, this is assuming Gallo’s 40-homer power and patience at the plate show promising signs of a return/bounce back. In the end, Gallo only hasn’t been himself for about 140 games during his stint with the Yankees.
Bellinger, on the other hand, largely has been a far cry from his All-Star-self since the start of the 2020 season. That’s three years now. It’s hard to imagine the 27-year-old snapping back into form overnight.
Then again, Gallo has zero playoff experience while Bellinger has 66 such games under his belt (though, very underwhelming with a .213 AVG, .671 OPS and 83 strikeouts). Was his delightful resurgence against the Cardinals, Giants and Braves last year enough to convince Roberts should Gallo become more influential in the batter’s box?
We truly don’t know, but the Dodgers acquired Gallo for a reason. And since these two are both lefties, you’d have to guess one is going to get more playing time over the other when each and every game matters.