While the Los Angeles Dodgers would not have enjoyed a wildly successful 2017 regular season without a collective effort from every player on the active roster and beyond, Cody Bellinger is often credited for providing the spark that led to a turnaround.
The presumed 2017 National League Rookie of the Year winner made his MLB debut April 25 and initially was only expected to remain with the club for a brief period. Initially playing the outfield, Adrian Gonzalez’s back trouble created an opportunity for Bellinger.
A forthcoming roster crunch, which was going to result in Bellinger returning to Triple-A Oklahoma City, was alleviated when Gonzalez volunteered to go on the disabled list for the first time in his career.
Bellinger went on to take hold of the starting job at first base, participated in the Home Run Derby and was named to the All-Star Game. Somewhat expectedly, a first experience with October baseball has come with growing pains.
Through the first two games of the National League Division Series, the 22-year-old is just 1-for-10 with two runs scored and six strikeouts. “I think with Cody it’s a little bit mechanics, it’s a little bit approach,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said.
“So it just boils down to Cody trying to stay bullish in the strike zone. I think it’s not like he’s trying to swing at balls out of the strike zone, and that’s obvious.” Bellinger will look to break out of his skid in Game 3 against Arizona Diamondbacks ace Zack Greinke.
“Obviously, Zack’s very aware of his aggressiveness outside of the strike zone, and to expect him to challenge him in the strike zone is unrealistic,” said Roberts. “I think he’s taken some good swings against Zack in the past and had some good at-bats, so hopefully that carries over.”
Bellinger is a career 3-for-9 with a double, home run and two strikeouts against Greinke. In effort to jump start matters, the Dodgers rookie faced Luis Avilan in a simulated game at Dodger Stadium before the team departed to Arizona. Roberts was encouraged by the results of Bellinger’s at-bats.