When the Los Angeles Dodgers called Cody Bellinger up for his MLB debut manager Dave Roberts intimated he planned to play the organization’s top hitting prospect on a near-everyday basis. Through Friday, Bellinger has started in each of the 16 games he’s been with the team.
Injuries in the outfield created the initial opportunity for Bellinger. Just as that window appeared to be closing, elbow and back trouble forced Adrian Gonzalez to the disabled list, extending Bellinger’s time at first base.
While the 21-year-old was earmarked to fill in at first base, Andrew Toles suffering an ACL injury has put Bellinger back in left field. Of more intrigue however, is his five starts as the Dodgers’ cleanup hitter.
It’s a spot in the lineup Roberts feels comfortable and is excited by having Bellinger in, according to Owen Perkins on MLB.com:
“I knew there was potential for him to hit cleanup for us, but it certainly sped up his ascension,” manager Dave Roberts said before Friday’s second game in a four-game set with the Rockies. “The at-bat quality, his willingness to take a walk when he needs to, for me that shows maturity in how to conduct an at-bat. When he swings that bat, something really exciting can happen. I’m very excited to have him hitting fourth.”
In 23 plate appearances over five starts when slotted fourth in the lineup, Bellinger is batting .250/.348/.600 with one double, two home runs and four RBI. In 14 plate appearances when batting fifth, Bellinger is hitting .385/.429/1.077 with three home runs and nine RBI.
Overall this season, the smooth-swinging first baseman/outfielder is batting a blistering .308/.384/.692 with two doubles, one triple and 18 RBI. Bellinger clubbed his seventh home run of the season in Friday’s win, overtaking Yasiel Puig for the team lead.