The Los Angeles Dodgers scratched Alex Verdugo from the lineup for Thursday’s series opener against the San Diego Padres. The announcement came less than one hour before first pitch, with Verdugo ruled out because of left knee soreness, and Matt Beaty inserted into left field.
It’s unclear how long Verdugo may have been bothered by the knee trouble. It’s plausible that was a factor in a prolonged slump that was snapped with a 4-for-4 effort in Wednesday’s 5-1 win over the Colorado Rockies.
The four hits matched a career high, which Verdugo set earlier this season, coincidentally against the Rockies. He went into the series finale at Coors Field just 4-for-39 with 14 strikeouts in his last 12 games (nine starts).
Verdugo attributed the bounce-back performance by simplifying his approach at the plate. Verdugo has largely managed to limit stretches of empty trips to the plate and remained productive in his first full Major League season.
Overall this season he’s batting .295/.344/.479 with 21 doubles, two triples, 14 home runs and 44 RBI. Beyond the production at the plate, Verdugo has established himself as a reliable defender. His six assists rank second among outfielders on the roster.
If Verdugo is to require a stint on the 10-day injured list, it could serve as the corresponding move to calling up Dustin May for his MLB debut on Friday night. Furthermore, the Dodgers’ outfield depth should remain intact.
Manager Dave Roberts announced the club has ended the experiment of Joc Pederson playing first base, and Cody Bellinger should see increased playing time at the position. Pederson again focusing on the outfield gives the Dodgers a natural replacement while Verdugo is sidelined.
What could be viewed as somewhat of a concern is the Dodgers’ overall depth amongst their position players. David Freese, Kiké Hernandez and Chris Taylor remain on the injured list with respective injuries.