As the Los Angeles Dodgers were closing in on a seventh consecutive National League West title but losing some ground in the race for the best record in baseball, manager Dave Roberts acknowledged there was a balancing act between health and the pursuit of home-field advantage through the World Series.
That was magnified when Max Muncy sustained a right wrist fracture after being hit by a pitch. Fortunately for Muncy and the Dodgers, the injury was relatively minor and he’s made a return in just over two weeks.
However, now the Dodgers are dealing with injuries of varying degrees to Rich Hill, Justin Turner and Alex Verdugo. Hill’s first start since being activated off the 60-day injured list was cut short because of a strained MCL in his left knee.
Meanwhile, Turner is dealing with a sprained left ankle and Verdugo has yet to resume workouts since back trouble resurfaced nearly two weeks ago.
After an X-ray on Turner’s ankle was inconclusive, he underwent an MRI that confirmed a mild sprain. He didn’t appear in any of the three games with the Baltimore Orioles and is not expected to play against the New York Mets this weekend, per Ken Gurnick of MLB.com:
Justin Turner is out for this series. Dave Roberts said he expects Turner in the lineup Tuesday.
— Ken Gurnick (@kengurnick) September 13, 2019
Should the Dodgers remain committed to avoiding calling on Turner, a return to the lineup Tuesday will amount to a full nine days off. Turner believes he injured the ankle on a diving play against the San Francisco Giants last Friday.
He remained in the game that night and started Saturday, though was removed early. Roberts has largely downplayed any concern over the nagging injury and he expressed a sense of relief upon learning the MRI results.
Although the Dodgers may not ultimately catch the New York Yankees for the best record and thus home-field advantage through the World Series, they should be able to maintain their advantage over the Atlanta Braves, even with Turner missing time. L.A. entered Friday four games ahead for the top seed in the NL playoffs.
With a veteran club that’s proven capable of winning in high-pressure environments on the road, health would appear to take precedent for the Dodgers; and in particular with Turner. He’s batting .302/.364/.621 with four doubles, 11 home runs and 21 RBI in 31 games (30 starts) since Aug. 1.
Turner’s 10 home runs in August set a career high for most in a single month, and it amounted to a nominal donation to the Justin Turner Foundation on behalf of REX Real Estate.