In corresponding moves Friday, the Los Angeles Dodgers announced that Gonzalez, who has dealt with tennis elbow and a herniated disk in his back all season, has been placed on the 10 day DL to make room for Joc Pederson‘s return from a groin issue. The move allows top first base prospect Cody Bellinger – who has excelled in 10 games for the Dodgers so far – a chance at extended playing time.
Sustained prior to this years World Baseball Classic, the elbow and back problems deprived Gonzalez of almost all his trademark power at the plate. Through his first 29 games of the season, the 5 time all-star has managed just a .255/.327/.309 slash line, with no home runs and 5 doubles. With an average exit velocity of just 87.5mph and running a career high 46.8% ground ball rate in 2017, the Dodgers will be hoping that some time off will help Gonzalez regain some of that power that made him one of the more feared hitters in baseball for most of his career.
Moving Gonzalez to the DL will allow the Dodgers to give Bellinger an extended look at his native first base. Touted as a potential Gold Glover at the position, it was Bellinger’s power and feel for hitting that had many scouts excited. Bellinger has looked impressive through 10 games so far, hitting .342/.390/.737 with 4 home runs and 9 RBIs. Bellinger certainly won’t be able to sustain that kind of pace but his raw power and advanced feel for the strike zone should allow Bellinger to pop 20-25 home runs with a solid average the rest of the way.
For what its worth, Bellinger responded to Gonzalez’ DL stint by bashing two impressive big flys in last night’s win against San Diego.
On the other side of this transaction, Joc Pederson will return to the lineup for the Dodgers. Pederson was off to a slow start himself before hitting the DL, managing just a .208/.328/.321 so far this season to go with just a lone home run. However, Pederson’s swing appears to be much improved in 2017 and he has proven to be a well above average hitter in each of the last two seasons so the Dodgers will be expecting significant improvement from their power hitting center fielder.