Betts’ Cracked Rib Test the Dodgers

Sunday, June 19, 2022
Copyrighted by Sarah Morris, 2022

A simple collision caused by miscommunication between Cody Bellinger and Mookie Betts derailed Betts’ season.

Although Betts finished Wednesday’s game when the first-inning collision happened, Betts suffered a cracked rib. He is likely out for the next two weeks.

Betts is the most dynamic Dodger. As manager Dave Roberts has frequently said, the Dodgers go as Betts goes. Yes, Trea Turner is faster than Betts. He can bat lead-off, but Turner does not have the same power as Betts has. Currently, Turner has been striking out a lot.

Defensively, the Dodgers will miss Betts in the right field. On Sunday when the Dodgers lost to the Cleveland Guardians 5-to-3, Eddy Alvarez had an adventure in right field, and his poor defense led to three runs for Cleveland.

Of course, one player does not make a baseball team an elite team. A world championship-quality team must have twenty-six players working together. This season the Dodgers have suffered many injuries to key players. While injuries are a part of baseball, it seems the Dodgers have been snakebit.

Last Saturday Clayton Kershaw with an inflamed SI joint returned from the IL, and although he has not won the two starts, he has pitched well. Sunday, Andrew Heaney with left shoulder inflammation returned from the IL and pitched well for five innings allowing two runs but one earned.

Having Walker Buehler miss at least three months with a right elbow problem and strained flexor muscle is a massive blow for the Dodgers. On June 13th, Buehler underwent arthroscopic elbow surgery to remove a bone chip. While the Dodgers have five starters with Heaney’s return, Buehler’s injury tests the Dodger pitching depth.

The injuries to Blake Treinen and Tommy Kahnle have weakened the Dodger bullpen. With Treinen’s right shoulder inflammation, the Dodgers must promote Daniel Hudson to their eighth-inning setup man instead of a backup closer, and Craig Kimbrel is struggling to close out the games successfully, which causes many late-inning heartbreaking losses. No one knows when Treinen can return. Kahnle with an elbow bone bruise after undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2020 was supposed to be the seventh-inning setup man. Now, the workload for both Brusdar Graterol and Yency Almonte has multiplied. So far, Graterol and Almonte have performed well with an increased workload, but will they be worn out in August and September?

The injuries to Edwin Ríos and Kevin Pillar have hurt the offensive production. Before Ríos tore his hamstring off the bone, he was the Dodger true power hitter. In 86 at-bats, he had 7 home runs. With the diminishing power from Max Muncy, Justin Turner, and Bellinger, the Dodgers needed Ríos’ power. His hamstring does not require surgical repair, but Ríos will not return to the lineup until August.

The Dodgers signed veteran right-handed Pillar to increase their outfield depth. Since Freddie Freeman, Muncy, Bellinger., and Gavin Lux are left-handed, the Dodgers are susceptible to left-handed pitching. They wanted Pillar to give them a more balanced lineup. After playing two games for his favorite childhood team, Pillar fractured his left shoulder requiring season-ending surgery.

Without Betts, the Dodgers are more prone to left-handed pitching. When the Dodgers decrease the number of pitchers on the roster, Roberts wants a right-handed batter. The Dodgers must survive the current rash of injuries to earn a playoff spot.

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