Dodgers outfielder Andrew Toles has been diagnosed with a torn right ACL, the club announced and Ken Gurnick of MLB.com was among those to tweet. He’ll require surgery to repair the ligament that seems likely to keep him out for the remainder of the season.
For the time being, at least, Brett Eibner will take his place on the active roster, per J.P. Hoornstra of the Southern California News Group (Twitter link). Also coming up is Scott Van Slyke, Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times reports (Twitter links), with reliever Adam Liberatore also hitting the DL with a groin strain. The two new additions to the roster, however, both hit from the right side.
The left-handed-hitting Toles, 24, hurt himself chasing down a flyball in the left field corner in an attempt to preserve an ongoing no-hitter. But he couldn’t make the catch and had to be helped off the field after going down awkwardly.
Today’s news represents the worst-case scenario. While Toles should have every hope of returning to full health after his ACL is repaired, the recovery time required makes it all but certain he won’t return in the present season.
Toles had engineered a meteoric rise to the majors last year, finally (and suddenly) making good on his promise. He had previously been a third-round pick of the Rays who washed out of baseball and ended up sitting out the 2015 season. But he hit at every level in 2016, including the majors, where he slashed .314/.365/.505 in 115 plate appearances.
That late-season showing made Toles a clear part of the Dodgers’ plans for the current campaign. If anything, though, his importance has increased: Toles is one of six Dodgers players who has accumulated more than 100 plate appearances thus far. Though he’s not quite hitting at last year’s pace, Toles is sitting at a productive .271/.314/.458.
Of course, that offensive work has come almost exclusively against right-handed pitching, as the Dodgers prefer to use him in a fairly strict platoon role. But he was a highly useful piece, and one that will be missed. While Los Angeles is fortunate in that top prospect Cody Bellinger has opened his career with a bang, and is capable of playing a corner, he had been slated to spend most of his time at first base with the struggling Adrian Gonzalez resting his ailing forearm. Instead, Bellinger will occupy left field for the time being, skipper Dave Roberts told reporters including Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times (Twitter links). He added that the organization will look to accelerate Gonzalez’s rehab timeline in the wake of the injury.
Looking ahead a bit, Andre Ethier could ultimately take over as the primary left-handed-hitting platoon corner outfielder, though he’s still a ways away from returning and features quite a different skillset than Toles. Ultimately, there are still plenty of scenarios for the Dodgers to have quite a productive outfield unit. So long as Gonzalez can return to take the lion’s share of time at first, the team can allow Bellinger and Yasiel Puig a chance to hold down near-everyday jobs in the corners, with platoon pieces such as Ethier and Franklin Gutierrez on hand to pick up any slack.