With the NL West sewn up, the Dodgers have two primary goals down the stretch: secure home-field advantage throughout the postseason and get to full health. Here are the latest updates from manager Dave Roberts on a few key players, as MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick was among those to cover on Twitter:
- Back soreness has halted the rehab work of outfielder Alex Verdugo. He had seemingly been nearing a return from an oblique injury. Now, per Roberts, Verdugo may head back to the club’s Arizona facility to receive further treatment. Verdugo had emerged as an important part of the Los Angeles outfield mix, even commanding time against left-handed pitching. On the year, he owns a strong .294/.342/.475 batting line with a dozen long balls. Verdugo has also graded as a plus defender and is capable of lining up anywhere in the outfield. It’s completely unclear at this point what kind of timeline to anticipate for the new malady.
- In more promising news, infielder Max Muncy is participating in baseball activities. He has already taken groundballs and will soon resume swinging. That represents fast progress for a player who recently suffered a fractured wrist. The club’s optimism regarding the severity of the injury has thus far been justified. Needless to say, the Dodgers will be focused on ensuring Muncy’s readiness for the postseason. The 29-year-old is carrying a big .253/.375/.525 batting line on the year. His left-handed bat is all the more important given Verdugo’s uncertainty.
- Southpaw Rich Hill is prepared to take the bump against live batters later this week, which could set the stage for a return as soon as next week. The plan remains for Hill to come back as a reliever. It seems the flexor tendon strain that sidelined the veteran hurler has recovered fully, though it remains to be seen what sort of form he’ll show upon his return. Hill almost certainly won’t be at full strength in the postseason, but he will have a few weeks to build up innings. He’ll surely play an interesting role in the L.A. playoff effort, with his showing also destined to impact his forthcoming free agency. The 39-year-old was outstanding (2.55 ERA in 53 innings) before going down with the injury.
- As for prized young hurler Dustin May, it seems awfully promising that he was able to throw a simulated inning today. The team still isn’t sure what will come next for the right-hander, who was drilled by a comebacker over the weekend but seems to have avoided serious injury. As in the above cases, the Dodgers will proceed with caution — all the more so given that the 21-year-old is considered a major future asset.