Dodgers Week In Review: Turning The Corner, Headlining Acquisitions, Things To Look Forward To

Pujols, Tsutsugo acquisitions are part of an encouraging week for the Dodgers

Remember when things looked bleak for the Dodgers?

Injuries abound, inconsistent offense, unreliable bullpen and a 3-10 stretch where they fell from 1st to 3rd in the NL West?

They look to have put that somewhat in the rearview mirror now as of this May 18 writing.

They are 5-1 in their last 6 games, getting largely consistent production from the lineup — Will Smith, Gavin Lux and the inferno that’s become of Max Muncy to name a few — and things have been better out of the bullpen as well.

Oh. They also acquired a future Hall of Famer in Albert Pujols and Yoshi Tsutsugo this weekend.

While the Dodgers are still dealing with injuries, major reinforcements are close to coming back. Zach McKinstry is going to go on a rehab assignment this week with the Triple-A Oklahoma City Dodgers, while Cody Bellinger was recently running at 80 percent according to manager Dave Roberts. The plan is for him to go on a rehab assignment soon. David Price, meanwhile, was activated on Monday.

While time will tell what Pujols’ on-field role is for the Dodgers, the first baseman provides at the very least a veteran presence for the talented but largely young team.

On the diamond, he made his presence felt immediately, driving in Mookie Betts with an RBI single for his first Dodger hit. He does figure to get decent playing time over the next month or so with Corey Seager out at least that long due to a fractured right hand.

Yesterday Pujols played first, Muncy slid over to second, while Gavin Lux and Justin Turner rounded out the left side of the infield. That could be a combination deployed by Los Angeles for the foreseeable future.

Yoshi Tsutsugo is an intriguing piece for the squad.

So far, he has not been able to replicate the success he had in Japan stateside. A .187/.292/.336 slash line is proof of that. But he has only played 77 MLB games over two seasons, his first one hampered by the COVID-19 pandemic where season preparation was affected as a result.

He had a .285/.382/.528 slash line over 10 seasons in Nippon Professional Baseball to go along with 255 home runs, so he is a solid hitter as well as versatile in the field, as he can play in left field as well as both corner infield positions. Additionally, he hit .320./.433/.680 with three home runs and 8 RBI in seven games for Japan in the 2017 World Baseball Classic, being named Pool B MVP along the way.

Another thing to look forward to is how Gavin Lux handles increased time at shortstop with Corey Seager’s extended absence. Lux should get more time there with Seager’s injury — probably rotating with Chris Taylor when he returns full time from wrist soreness.

Seager’s contract ends after this season, where the Scott Boras client could have close to a $300 million asking price. Because of that, the Dodgers have a decision to make; whether to pursue the 2020 World Series MVP in free agency or let him leave, probably for a player like the 23-year old Lux to take his place. Seager will be out around a month, and while that is a relatively short amount of time to make an impression one way or another for a decision of that magnitude, it gives Lux an opportunity nonetheless.

If he performs well in Seager’s place in addition to the rest of this season, Lux could find himself entrenched as the Dodgers’ shortstop after 2021. Will he play well enough to force the franchise to make a tough choice at the conclusion of this season? That remains to be seen, but it’s certainly a storyline to watch, especially as Lux has been improving at the plate.

Yes, the Dodgers went through a rough patch. But things are now trending up for the team and with players like Bellinger and McKinstry set to return soon, could be set up to go on a run that could define the rest of their season as they head into the heart of NL West play.