The Los Angeles Dodgers’ World Series hopes took a hit today when Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported that shortstop Corey Seager had been left off the team’s NLCS roster due to a back injury.
Seager suffered the injury against the Arizona Diamondbacks in Game 3 of the NLDS on Monday and could not practice all week. He was replaced on the roster by Charlie Culberson, who started at shortstop in Game 1 of the NLCS versus the Chicago Cubs tonight.
The immediate effect
Though Seager can be added to the postseason roster later this series, his immediate loss could wind up being a big one. His injury leaves the Dodgers without a left-handed bat that slugged 22 home runs during the regular season while also batting a respectable .295 with 77 RBI.
Seager’s average in 2017 went down from .308 last year and his 22 home runs were down from 26, but he is still just 23 years old and posted a 5.1 WAR this season. It’s also worth noting that Seager was limited to 145 games this year as he dealt with hamstring and elbow injuries, so his small drops in batting average, slugging percentage (down to .475 from .512), and OPS (down to .854 from .877) could be due to that.
Seager also saw his isolated power drop 20 points to .184, so perhaps a rest from playing is just what he needs to get back on the horse. Los Angeles has plenty of depth on its roster in the event of injury, so Seager’s loss may not be as devastating as some fans may think.
The long-term effect
There is just one small thing to consider, and it isn’t the fact that Los Angeles went 10-7 without Seager in the lineup this season. Four of those seven losses came during the Dodgers’ infamous 11-game losing streak, and there’s no telling whether Seager could have helped turn those into wins had he played through his elbow injury.
The one thing to consider is that playoff baseball’s intensity is a lot different than that of the regular season and the Dodgers are facing off against none other than the defending champion Chicago Cubs, the same team that defeated them in last year’s NLCS. Los Angeles would love to avenge that this year, so there should be an all hands on deck mentality entering tonight’s series opener, especially for those who can play.
Seager, sadly, is not one of them and will be replaced in the lineup with Culberson, who spent most of 2017 at Triple-A Oklahoma City and played in just 15 games at the major league level. Seager also improved enough as a shortstop this year to see his Rdrs jump from zero last year to ten in 2017, plus his errors dropped from 18 to 11. Culberson, however, has played just 45 of his 157 career games at shortstop and has managed a Rdrs of just seven at that position for his entire career.
That said, though losing Seager should not completely sink the Los Angeles Dodgers’ hopes of winning the NL Pennant and management would only leave him off of the NLCS roster if they felt something was wrong with his back, this is an area where depth will not help. It only puts more pressure on other hitters like Justin Turner, Cody Bellinger, Yasiel Puig, and others to carry the load. What hurts the most is that Seager upped his postseason batting average from .205 last year to .273 in 2017, and his OBP was up to .467 from .255.
The numbers show that the man was locked in and determined to help his team in the playoffs this year, and the onus is now on Culberson to prove that he can step up when thrust into the October spotlight.
Want to share your opinion? Why not Write For Us?