After surging to the best record in Major League Baseball over the first three months of the season, the Los Angeles Dodgers have cooled a bit in July despite returning two starters, Corey Seager and A.J. Pollock, from the injured list.
Pollock’s return to center field shifted Alex Verdugo to left, which forced Joc Pederson to move to first base — a position he had never played professionally.
Pederson struggled mightily with the glove at first base, but the Dodgers’ defense as a whole has been unimpressive as well. Pollock’s play in center field has also been somewhat of a downgrade from the younger Verdugo’s, and Max Muncy’s improved defense at second base is still far from elite.
With the team collectively having their lapses, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said this week he wasn’t certain what was to blame, as seen on SportsNet LA:
“We pride ourselves on being sure-handed. We’re just not making plays we (previously) have consistently. I don’t have an explanation for it. … It needs to get better. I’m not concerned about it long term, but in the present it’s important. It causes pitchers to go shorter in games because their pitch count gets up, the rhythm of a game (is thrown off). Again, I don’t have an explanation for it. Hopefully it turns sooner than later.”
The Dodgers seemingly took a step toward shoring up their defense when Roberts announced Pederson would be moved off first base. With his shift back to the outfield, Cody Bellinger is expected to receive increased time at first.
While that may lend to improvement, complicating matters is the loss of Chris Taylor and Kiké Hernandez to forearm and hand injuries, respectively. Both Taylor and Hernandez offer above-average defense in a variety of positions when healthy.
The Dodgers traded for Khristopher Negrón to help fill in until Taylor and Hernandez are able to return. Negrón started his first game with the Dodgers at second base, and has already made starts at shortstop and center field.
While some fans have called for the promotion of top prospect Gavin Lux, another middle infielder, his primary value comes at the plate. He has over 70 errors in his professional career at second base and shortstop, many coming from throwing mistakes.
It would also be a shock if the Dodgers called up Lux before September to primarily reside on the bench and only make an occasional start.
Including in Friday’s loss to the San Diego Padres, the Dodgers have committed at least one error in seven of their last 10 games.