2 Los Angeles Dodgers players who've earned more reps, 1 who hasn't

Los Angeles Dodgers v Los Angeles Angels
Los Angeles Dodgers v Los Angeles Angels / Ric Tapia/GettyImages

It's all blue skies in LA. Shohei Ohtani has been vindicated following formal charges of bank fraud pressed against former translator Ippei Mizuhara; the Dodgers are one of only two teams with 10 wins and were the first to get there; and the lineup is doing exactly what it's supposed to, with those toward the bottom starting to heat up.

It's hard to find a crack in the armor of LA's starters, but we always expected that, so we turn our attentions to the bench. The Dodgers have already had to do some shuffling, and their backup guys have been called on frequently to respond to injuries or to fill defensive holes. Some are having a better go at it than others.

2 Dodgers players who have earned more reps in 2024

Austin Barnes

We'll own up to it; there's been a fair amount of anti-Austin Barnes sentiment here. But in our defense, he hit .180 last year as the Dodgers' backup catcher and is probably great at working with pitchers off the field, but maybe not the best at actually catching them on it.

So far this year, Barnes is bogged down a bit by a tiny sample size in the regular season — he's only played in three games and taken nine at-bats on Will Smith's off days — but he's looked pretty okay when he has been up there. He's always had an elite chase rate, and that's continued into this season, but so far he's been pairing it with a much better walk rate than last year. He's also getting the barrel to the ball better, and is blocking better behind the plate.

As a veteran backup catcher who seems destined to play second fiddle to Smith (who just signed a 10-year extension with the Dodgers) for as long as he's a Dodger, the amount of playing time he gets will be entirely contingent on when Smith doesn't play. He also probably doesn't have much to worry about from LA's top catching prospects, who are untested at the major league level and who the team probably wouldn't want to call up to take a 26-man spot in a crowded roster.

Still, he needs to incentivize the club to exercise their option at the end of this season. If Barnes can keep the good start going, maybe we'll have to take the haterism down another notch.

Miguel Rojas

Rojas has probably been in the news more than he wants to be lately. Old Marlins beef dredged up by former teammate Jazz Chisholm, which Rojas had a quick, understandably indignant response to, called his leadership abilities into question. That hasn't seemed to be an issue with the Dodgers; instead, Rojas has appeared to play a big role in welcoming LA's many new additions this season, and he's already been spotted standing up for his teammates and opponents alike during one of their rainy games at Wrigley before a delay was called.

He's also been on a hot streak to start the season; there was even a time when he'd hit more home runs for LA than Shohei Ohtani. Although his production has waned a little getting towards the middle of April, he's still hitting .333 with a .889 OPS. On defense, he's been a reliable fill-in at shortstop (and once at third) while the Mookie Betts/Gavin Lux 2B/SS experiment wears on.

Rojas has always been a more than capable defensive shortstop and, even if Betts and Lux can't settle in more to their positions, will continue to be a substitute option, but he's on the right track to solidify himself as one of the best, especially if the others (we're foreshadowing here) continue to struggle.

1 Dodgers player who hasn't earned additional chances in 2024

Chris Taylor

Apologies to all of the CT3 stans out there — Taylor really hasn't been justifying his place on the Dodgers roster. Since the beginning of the season, he's 1-27 with no extra base hits and 14 strikeouts through play on Thursday. The Dodgers have needed to depend on him more in the outfield, given Jason Heyward's absence, but he hasn't been able to come through in any meaningful way.

LA's bench, especially with the re-addition of Kiké Hernández, was supposed to be one of the more solid in baseball at the start of the season, and Taylor was a big part of that. He's always struck out a lot, but at least last year he also had some pop and speed to make up for it. He hit 15 home runs, 16 extra base hits, and 16 stolen bases last year, but so far this season it seems like the bat has gone completely cold.

The Dodgers acquired and called up Taylor Trammell in light of Heyward's injury, but he hasn't been able to make any kind of splash in his first four plate appearances for LA. Trammell doesn't have minor league options left, so the Dodgers would have to send him packing entirely, but maybe it's time to give Andy Pages his major league debut?