The Dodgers’ never-ending quest for bench production continued on Tuesday, calling up Jake Lamb from Triple-A Oklahoma City, with utility man Zach McKinstry landing on the 10-day injured list with neck stiffness.
Lamb was hitting .290/.395/.537 with a 131 wRC+ in 61 games in Triple-A, with his 15 home runs leading Oklahoma City.
After not seeing results in 2021 with a series of rookies in reserve roles, the Dodgers this year loaded up on veterans, many on minor league contracts. In addition to the 31-year-old Lamb, the Dodgers have also called up 33-year-old Kevin Pillar (who is now out for the year after shoulder surgery), 32-year-old Eddy Alvarez, and 33-year-old Stefen Romero this season, though Romero’s stint last week lasted only three days, in which he did not play.
Lamb got rave reviews as a non-roster invitee in spring training, and was one of the last few cuts during spring training, when Edwin Ríos earned a spot on the opening day roster.
“Jake’s a big league ballplayer,” manager Dave Roberts said of Lamb during the Freeway Series in April, predicting he would be called up at some point this season.
Lamb was an All-Star in 2017 for Arizona, and hit 59 home runs in 2016-17 combined. But the last four years have been a struggle, hitting just .203/.308/.355, an 80 wRC+ in 733 plate appearances with the D-backs, A’s, White Sox, and Blue Jays.
Lamb in spring training detailed a swing overhaul he had last season with Fabian Ardaya at The Athletic, and told Bill Plunkett at the Orange County Register it was a hard transition going from major league regular to reserve.
Though a career third baseman, Lamb has dabbled in the corner outfield the last few years, including during spring training this year and in three games for Oklahoma City. But most of Lamb’s time in Triple-A this year has been at first base (34 starts), along with 21 times at designated hitter and three times at third base.
McKinstry was recalled on June 19, and appeared in two of the last eight games, both as a reserve, going 0-for-2. McKInstry has played six games in the majors this year, and saw time at shortstop, right field, third base, and second base, plus he homered as a designated hitter.
Zach McKinstry said he felt his neck stiffen up taking swings in the batting cage a couple days back. Didn't get better the next day. Feeling a bit better today but understands wanting to give it an extra few days on the IL and get past it.— Fabian Ardaya (@FabianArdaya) June 28, 2022