The reigning National League Champion Los Angeles Dodgers suffered a major loss on Monday afternoon. The team announced that All-Star shortstop Corey Seager will need season-ending Tommy John surgery. The Dodgers have already been without third baseman Justin Turner for the first month of the season, and now they will lose Seager for the remainder of their 2018 campaign.
Seager has clearly been hampered by his elbow injury so far this season, hitting a meager .267 with just two home runs through his first 26 games. He has also struggled defensively, committing three errors thus far and being unusually wild with many of his throws across the diamond.
The injury to Seager is just another blow to an already struggling 2018 Dodgers team, which currently sits in fourth place in the National League West with a 12-15 record. Seager, when healthy, is an offensive force that the Dodgers will sorely miss in their lineup. The Dodgers are currently scoring an average of 4.74 runs per game, which ranks them 12th in Major League Baseball. That is notably underwhelming for a team that made it all the way to the World Series just last season.
Seager is not the only Dodgers star who has been struggling at the start of the 2018 season. Yasiel Puig, who was also placed on the disabled list this week, is hitting a paltry .193 with no home runs so far this season. Chris Taylor, who becomes the team’s starting shortstop in Seager’s absence, is hitting just .233 with an uninspiring 32/7 strikeout-to-walk ratio. The Dodgers need an injection of offense in the worst way. The return of Turner will help, and he is nearing a return with an anticipated rehab assignment starting next week.
Luckily for the Dodgers, they have several versatile players on their roster, along with solid depth to fill in for Seager. Taylor is a natural shortstop who was moved to center field because his bat demanded playing time but Seager was at short, so his transition back to the infield should be smooth. This would open the door for Kiké Hernandez to fill in for Taylor in center field. Hernandez is hitting just .254 so far this season, but the stability of playing everyday could give him a morale boost and increase his production. The multitude of injuries also opens the door for one of the Dodgers’ budding stars, Alex Verdugo, to find himself in the lineup. Verdugo, 21, is the Dodgers’ second ranked prospect according to MLB.com. He has a chance to make a sudden impact much in the same way that Cody Bellinger did when he was first called up.
The strong depth of the Dodgers will serve them greatly in Seager’s absence. Nevertheless, a return to postseason glory seems far off until this team gets fully healthy and starts producing more offense for its stellar pitching staff.