The Astros returned to a filled Dodger Stadium last night, and it was just about the circus you would have imagined. Even though the Dodgers got their World Series last year, and have played in two more since 2017 to the Astros’ one, there’s still some bitterness about the cheating scandal as you might imagine.
Cody Bellinger is probably happy for anything right now that doesn’t keep his names in the stories and conversations. But when Trea Turner joins the Dodgers lineup in the next week or so, someone might ask whether or not Bellinger should even be playing. So much for laying low.
Bellinger’s .165 average would be worst in baseball if he had enough ABs to qualify. He’s been a negative WAR player even though he’s been pretty good in the field. He’s striking out nearly a third of the time, and is chasing everything.
The Dodgers are maybe the only team that can just sit a former MVP and not worry that their chances hinged on any kind of return to form for any length of time. Chris Taylor or Turner could handle center with the other one at second, and Mookie Betts returning to right. Betts’ sore hip seeing him moonlight at second this week might be the only thing keeping Bellinger in the lineup right now (and how does the greater activity of the infield give Betts’ hip a rest more than the idling in right? Another time).
Injuries certainly have played their role in Bellinger’s season, first a hairline fracture in his leg and then pulling a hammy two weeks later. He’s only appeared in 49 games. And something must still be bothering him if he’s putting together this whiff of a season.
He very well may lose his starting role... and then probably comes up with a big homer or two off the bench in the playoffs, because that’s just how the Dodgers do things. But how many former MVPs fall off the map like this at 26?