The Dodgers announced Tuesday that slugger J.D. Martinez has been placed on the 10-day injured list due to a groin injury. Infielder Michael Busch has been recalled from Triple-A Oklahoma City to take his spot on the active roster.
Martinez, who turned 36 yesterday, has been hobbled by tightness in his groin recently and hasn’t been in the lineup since Aug. 19. The Dodgers can thus backdate his placement on the IL a couple of days. Even a short-term absence for Martinez removes one of the most potent bats from the Los Angeles lineup, as Martinez has had a resurgent season in the power department, batting .256/.309/.547 with 25 big flies and 23 doubles in 390 plate appearances. He also missed about two weeks earlier this season, owing to discomfort in his lower back.
While Martinez has found some renewed pop after hitting “just” 16 home runs in 2022, the uptick in power has come at the expense of some contact. Martinez’s 31.3% strikeout rate is the highest mark of his career, while his 7.2% walk rate is his lowest since 2014. It’s been a worthwhile trade-off in the aggregate, and Martinez’s career-high 93.1 mph exit velocity and 54.5% hard-hit rate speak to the legitimacy of his restored power.
Martinez is playing the season on a one-year, $10MM deal he agreed to over the winter after wrapping up a five-year, $110MM deal in Boston. He’ll be a free agent again at season’s end.
Busch, 25, entered the season ranked as one of the game’s top 100 prospects but hasn’t found much success in limited MLB opportunities thus far. He’s tallied 51 plate appearances and recorded a tepid .200/.294/.267 batting line with a 31.4% strikeout rate in that time. He’s obliterated Triple-A pitching in Oklahoma City, though, mashing at a .323/.432/.615 clip and swatting 24 home runs in 424 trips to the plate. Strikeouts haven’t been an issue in OKC like they have in the big leagues; Busch has fanned in just 18.9% of his minor league plate appearances this year and countered that with a huge 14.4% walk rate.
Busch can step up and take some of Martinez’s temporarily vacated DH at-bats, and he’ll also give the Dodgers an option at second base, third base, first base or in left field. The former No. 31 overall pick has been primarily a second baseman but has 585 innings at third base, 159 innings at first base and 132 innings in left field in his professional career.