On a nondescript Sunday in June 2016, the Los Angeles Dodgers parted with former top pitching prospect Zach Lee by trading him to the Seattle Mariners in exchange for Chris Taylor. He was assigned to Triple-A Oklahoma City and bounced on and off the MLB roster that year.
Taylor began the 2017 season with Oklahoma City but was with the Dodgers by the middle of April and has been a mainstay ever since. Once a light-hitting utility man, Taylor overhauled his swing to become as much of a treat at the plate as he is versatile in the field.
A natural shortstop, Taylor has taken to playing second base, third base and the outfield. He started in left field on Wednesday night and ultimately turning in a game-winning highlight.
L.A. was clinging to a 7-6 lead as Kenley Jansen faced a bit of a jam. Runners were at the corners with one out, and Manny Machado was at the plate. Jansen’s command wasn’t the sharpest and a best-case scenario at that stage appeared to be extra innings.
However, Machado lined out to Taylor, who threw a dart home to nab Trent Grisham on his attempt to score the tying run. Taylor’s strike was clocked at 93.3 mph by Statcast.
“Luckily my momentum was already taking me in. I just tried to get rid of it as quick as I could and give Will an easy one-hop,” Taylor said.
“That was pretty cool, to be honest. I don’t think I’ve ever ended a game on the defensive side like that. Especially coming through for Kenley, getting him that save and not having to play extra innings was nice. That felt good.”
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts has regularly praised Taylor for his at-bat quality and willingness to play anywhere in the field. His heroics to give the Dodgers a series win earned him more recognition.
“It was a huge play. Chris has done so much to help us win baseball games,” Robert said. “Even the play before, to cut it off and keep the guy at first base. Then come in and make a strong, accurate throw. He does so many things. The triple that he got.
“He’s just a manager’s dream. He’s always ready when called upon and he seems to impact the game any time he’s in there.”
Ross Stripling celebrated
Ross Stripling was largely in control for much of his start and exited with two outs in the fifth inning. He allowed four runs on six hits, but also had seven strikeouts. Taylor’s throw helped Stripling earn the win, improving him to 3-0.
“C.T. is a gamer, man. He catches that and throws it home. What a play,” Stripling said. We went nuts in the locker room.”
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