Dodgers manager Dave Roberts told reporters today (including Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times) that he expects infielder Max Muncy to return to the lineup at third base for Tuesday’s game against the Rockies in Denver. J.P. Hoornstra of The Orange County Register adds that the club will wait to see how Muncy feels following Tuesday’s game before determining whether or not he’s ready to play on back-to-back days.
Muncy’s return figures to provide a huge boost to a beleaguered Dodgers club that’s been outscored 44-29 since he last played on June 11. While the 32-year-old slugger has hit above the Mendoza line just once in the past four seasons, his overall slash line of .214/.342/.450 is good for a wRC+ that’s 18% better than league average during that time frame. That’s thanks to Muncy sporting a combination of power and plate discipline that stands among the game’s best. Since joining the Dodgers in 2018, Muncy ranks 4th in the NL in both walk rate (15.4%) and home runs (157). Michael Busch has held down the fort at third base while Muncy was on the shelf.
Also set to re-join the club in the coming days is lefty Julio Urias, who Hoornstra notes is expected to return to the club during next weekend’s series in Kansas City. A free agent at season’s end, Urias will look to improve upon the uncharacteristic 4.39 ERA and 5.30 FIP he posted across his first 11 starts of the season prior to hitting the injured list. Urias figures to be among the top free agents available this offseason behind Shohei Ohtani, even after his struggles to start the season, given his pedigree as a hurler with a career ERA of 2.95 who won’t turn 27 until August.
Hoornstra adds that, according to Roberts, young right-handers Emmet Sheehan and Bobby Miller both figure to remain in the rotation even after Urias is activated. Roberts heaped praise on the pair of youngsters, describing their performance at the big league level so far as “100th percentile” when it comes to handling the opportunity to pitch in the majors. Entering play today, Sheehan has posted a 1.50 ERA across two starts with the club while Miller has impressed to the tune of a 2.83 ERA in five starts.
That figures to leave right-hander Noah Syndergaard without a job in the rotation going forward. As noted by Hoornstra, the right-hander threw three simulated innings prior to today’s game against the Astros, without being hindered by the blister that sent him to the 15-day IL earlier this month. That being said, Roberts described Syndergaard’s session today as simply “checking a box” for the right-hander, adding that “we’re still a ways away” from Syndergaard returning to the active roster. After signing a one-year deal with the Dodgers this past winter, Syndergaard has struggled badly with a 7.16 ERA in 55 1/3 innings of work.