Come August the Los Angeles Dodgers had seen enough and traded for Carlos Ruiz in effort to improve some against left-handed pitching. However, if Dave Roberts’ roster wasn’t plagued by injuries, that role would have belonged to Scott Van Slyke and Trayce Thompson.
Van Slyke had a subpar 2015 season in large part due to a wrist injury he was never able to shake free of. The nagging issue left Los Angeles no other choice but to leave him off their postseason roster.
Van Slyke went into this season hoping to turn the page and recapture the success he had in 2014. That immediately got off on the wrong note as he only managed to appear in four games. The fourth was cut short as Van Slyke was removed on April 9 due to back tightness.
At the beginning of May, he received the approval from team doctors to return to baseball activities. Toward the end of May, Van Slyke was given the green light to begin a rehab assignment.
He was activated off the disabled list in early June, as an injury replacement for Yasiel Puig. Van Slyke was slated to fill a platoon role in the outfield and as part of the Dodgers’ solution to southpaw pitching.
The 30-year-old appeared in 48 games throughout June, July and early August. Van Slyke’s batting average steadily increased with each month, going from .111, to .206, to .271 by the end of July.
However, the month of August brought forth more injury woes, as he was placed on the 15-day disabled list with wrist irritation. The injury turned into a downfall, as Van Slyke was then transferred to the 60-day DL on Aug. 26.
One day later, the Dodgers announced he was slated had to have season-ending arthroscopic wrist surgery. While it was possible for Van Slyke to play through the discomfort, the decision took into account the fact that he had suffered from the wrist trouble since last year.
In 52 games this season, Van Slyke hit .225/.292/.314 with six doubles, one home run and seven RBIs in 113 plate appearances.
On June 15, the Dodgers found themselves at Chase Field facing the Arizona Diamondbacks, with ace Clayton Kershaw on the mound. Through five innings pitched the Dodgers trailed, 1-0, as the offense was only able to collect four scattered hits against Patrick Corbin.
Having already doubled in the game, Van Slyke stepped to the plate in the sixth inning with two men on base. Corbin, who had been dealing at that point, delivered a 1-0 fastball on the lower-half of the plate he would immediately regret.
Van Slyke connected on the pitch and drove it to left field for a three-run home run. The Dodgers went on to win the contest, 3-2, to help Kershaw earn his 10th victory of the season.
Van Slyke is again eligible for salary arbitration. He signed a one-year deal last winter to avoid arbitration, and presumably will ink a similar contract this time around.
Once that’s settled, health will be a focal point for the 30-year-old. Should Van Slyke manage to bounce back from the clean-up procedure on his wrist, he can again become a valuable reserve outfielder and first baseman.