The Dodgers are taking a familiar path when one of their regulars gets hurt, preferring to wait it out rather than utilize the injured list rather than calling up someone who wouldn’t play all that much. Max Muncy is the latest to run through the cycle, as he’s out until at least Saturday with a strain of his left hamstring.
From Bill Plunkett at the Orange County Register, here is more from manager Dave Roberts before Wednesday’s game:
“I think doing that (putting Muncy on the IL) right now would be a little overreacting. I think that today is much better than it was yesterday. And so if we can take it day to day and see where we’re at come Friday.”
“I think that where we’re at, the versatility of the bench, I don’t think we’re pressed right now,” Roberts said. “But once we get to Friday, thinking about days that we potentially could … lose as far as backdating, we’ll probably make a decision at that point.”
Roberts on Wednesday told reporters it a Grade 2 hamstring strain for Muncy, though the third baseman in an interview on Foul Territory on Thursday explained that the injury wasn’t that serious.
“It’s not a Grade 2. It’s just a low grade. Hopefully we’re going to be back — who knows when, but hopefully it’s sooner rather than later,” Muncy said. “If it was a Grade 2, you’re looking at a month, two months. Thankfully that’s not what I’m looking at right now.”
Max Muncy tells #FTLive his hamstring strain is NOT a Grade 2 as first reported, it's actually a milder low grade strain.— Foul Territory (@FoulTerritoryTV) June 15, 2023
"If it was a Grade 2, you're looking at a month, two months. Thankfully that's not what I'm looking at right now."
▶️ https://t.co/7Kn4g5xcZE pic.twitter.com/ey3zwrWx7Q
Muncy injured the left hamstring running to first base on Sunday in Philadelphia, and also felt a cramp in the same hamstring on May 28. That injury caused him to miss only one game. This time, Muncy will miss at least four games, through Friday.
The Dodgers did a similar maneuver with shortstop Miguel Rojas in April, when he missed five games and six out of seven with a mild groin strain but avoided the injured list, only to land on the IL about a week later with a hamstring strain that sidelined him for 11 games.
Roberts mentioning Friday as the decision point makes sense, because that’s the date at which they could limit his games missed by backdating an IL move the maximum of three days. The Dodgers are off Monday and Thursday next week, so putting Muncy on the IL Friday would mean missing a minimum of eight games. Putting Muncy on the injured list today or Thursday could be backdated to Monday, but would still mean missing the same eight games.
The potential upside the Dodgers are risking, if at all, is missing a few games with a full, available active roster by calling up someone from Triple-A Oklahoma City. The most likely candidate to come up should Muncy be sidelined is Michael Busch, but his first major league stint this year is instructive.
Busch was active for 15 games, the first three of which Muncy was on the paternity list and all of which J.D. Martinez was out with lower back tightness. Yet Busch only started five times.
Chris Taylor started at third base in each of the first two games against the White Sox, with Muncy out.
Also on Wednesday, Roberts said Bobby Miller would start against the Giants on Saturday, giving him an extra day of rest. With Tony Gonsolin locked in for Sunday after his strong outing Tuesday against the White Sox, the only question was which day Miller would start this weekend.
“The thought was, if we can give him an extra day, there’s probably no downside to it,” Roberts said of Miller. “We don’t have a starter yet for Friday, but I think a bullpen day is safe to say right now, unless we decide otherwise.”
Whether the Dodgers opt for a bullpen game Friday likely depends on how relievers are used on Wednesday and Thursday. Perhaps a roster move could be made to augment the staff for Friday, and/or call up a bulk pitcher.