Justin Turner is expected to start a minor league rehab assignment this weekend with Class-A Rancho Cucamonga, and conceivably could be activated at some point on the Dodgers’ road trip next week through Miami and Washington.
With the team’s poor start, the Dodgers have a long, arduous path before even thinking about contention. Getting their best hitter back in the lineup will go a long way to getting things back on track, but by no means will Turner’s return solve all the club’s problems.
But he doesn’t have to.
Getting even normal production from Turner would be a vast improvement over what the Dodgers are getting at third base at the moment. Los Angeles third baseman this season are hitting .192/.282/.331, last in the majors in OPS (.613) and wRC+ (68), tied for last in doubles (four), and 29th in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage.
|LF||Winker (L)||2B||Utley (L)|
|1B||Votto (L)||C||Grandal (L)|
|C||Barnhart (S)||3B||Muncy (L)|
The time at the hot corner has been split pretty evenly between Kyle Farmer (54 plate appearances), Logan Forsythe (43 PA) and Max Muncy (39 PA), and all have struggled.
Tonight against the Reds is Muncy’s 12th start at third base for the Dodgers, to go with 14 for Farmer and 10 for Forsythe, who starts a rehab assignment with Rancho Cucamonga tonight as well.
Kiké Hernandez has also started twice at third base and played five games at the position this year, going 3-for-11 (.273) with a home run and a triple.
Major league number three hitters have a collective .461 slugging percentage in 2018, the second-highest slug rate among lineup spots, trailing only cleanup batters (.466). Dodgers’ number three hitters have a .399 slugging percentage.
Yasmani Grandal hits third against Matt Harvey on Friday night.
Turner hit .322/.415/.530 with 21 home runs and 32 doubles in 130 games in 2017, making his first All-Star team. In his four years with the Dodgers he has hit .303/.378/.502, a 139 OPS+ and 141 wRC+.
His worst season in Los Angeles, from a wRC+ standpoint was 2016 (123 wRC+), when he hit .275/.339/.493. Anything close to that would at the very least plug a gaping hole in the Dodgers’ lineup.