The Los Angeles Dodgers called up Cody Bellinger from Triple-A Oklahoma City for his MLB debut last week in response to multiple injuries and lack of production from their outfielders. Bellinger’s time in the Majors was expected to be relatively brief.
Los Angeles saw the return of Franklin Gutierrez on Tuesday, and Logan Forsythe and Joc Pederson may also come off the disabled list by the weekend. Scott Van Slyke was demoted to Oklahoma City as the corresponding roster move to reinstate Gutierrez.
That left Bellinger in the Majors, with Friday now looming as the next key date. While Dodgers manager Dave Roberts had indicated Bellinger was bound for a return to Oklahoma City, Roberts on Tuesday night left open the possibility he remains with the team.
The DodgerBlue.com staff debated what the Dodgers should elect to do with the organization’s top position-player prospect.
Jeff Spiegel (@JeffSpiegel):
Over the past seven days, Cody Bellinger trails only Justin Turner in wRC+ among Dodgers (a number that attempts to quantify total offensive value). That’s because he’s batting .345/.406/.655 since being called up with seven runs scored, two home runs and five RBIs.
Did we mention he’s only 21? Oh by the way, Bellinger plays all three outfield positions (as well as first base), has incredible speed and has brought excitement and energy that was desperately needed. So, let me think about whether the Dodgers should send Bellinger down….
Okay, so keeping Bellinger is an obvious move. But who gets optioned? The temporary answer would be to place Adrian Gonzalez to the 10-day disabled list in order to get him some rest and push the team’s decision down the line.
Personally, though, I’d have no problem with sending Kiké Hernandez to Oklahoma City. In wRC+, 100 is league average — anything above is good, below is bad. Hernandez’s wRC+ over the past seven days is three.
His calling card is his ability to hit lefties — and he’s doing that to the tune of .188 this season. Hernandez also has three errors (one at second, one at shortstop and one in center field) in the equivalent of 14 full games.
Add in Chris Taylor’s emergence, Andrew Toles’ overall performance and Franklin Gutierrez’s return from the DL, and the clock has struck midnight for Hernandez.
Daniel Starkand (@DStarkand):
I do not think the Dodgers can afford to send down Cody Bellinger on Friday. He has been playing at an extremely high level, and is doing something on a nightly basis to help the team win.
There is not a clear solution of someone else to option when Joc Pederson comes off the disabled list, so I think the solution may be to put Adrian Gonzalez on the 10-day disabled list and let Bellinger play first base every day while he is out.
Gonzalez has not looked right this season. Whether it be his shoulder, elbow, or something else, I think he can benefit greatly from a couple weeks off.
Then by the time Gonzalez is ready to return, Bellinger will have been in the big leagues for almost a full month, so it will be easier to judge if he belongs and should stay up longer, or if a return to Triple-A is needed for more development.
I just don’t believe you can send down someone as hot as Bellinger right now. In his last five games, Bellinger is 9-for-20 with two home runs, seven runs scored and five RBIs. Those are not the numbers of a Triple-A player.
Matt Borelli (@MattDodgerBlue):
Cody Bellinger should absolutely remain with the Dodgers and not be optioned on Friday.
Considering his defensive versatility, Bellinger can play at any outfield position and fill in at first base when necessary.
Not only that, but his bat, alone, makes him worth keeping around. Bellinger has shown in a small sample size that he can hit to all fields and drive the ball with force.
I’m just not sold that Adrian Gonzalez can avoid a disabled list stint in the near future. I’d rather see him get a few weeks off to rest his bad back and forearm, and hopefully when he returns, his power comes back with him.
If Gonzalez is adamant about not landing on the DL, then the club should option one of Kiké Hernandez or Chris Taylor in the meantime. The Dodgers can even go back to a traditional seven-man bullpen and send down a reliever in order to account for Bellinger.
No matter what, though, Bellinger needs to be included in the short-term picture.
Jared Massey (@JarredJMassey):
The Dodgers should absolutely keep Cody Bellinger on the roster for the foreseeable future. Adrian Gonzalez’s elbow obviously hasn’t healed, which is reflected in his utter lack of power.
Now that Bellinger is up and more than capable of filling in, Gonzalez should be placed on the disabled list until he’s 100 percent healthy and capable of returning to recent form.