For the last few weeks, the questions about Corey Seager had ceased. There was no more wondering when the old Seager, the one before elbow and hip surgeries, would surface again. The shortstop was back to his All-Star-level form in the batter’s box, fortifying the middle of the Dodgers’ lineup, smoothly slashing doubles with regularity.
And on Tuesday he had three hits and a walk, doing his part to populate the bases on a frustrating night for the Dodgers that took a cruel turn in the ninth inning when he pulled up lame a few strides before touching third base.
Seager, 25, grabbed his left hamstring immediately, prompting Dodgers manager Dave Roberts and athletic trainer Yosuke Nakajima to emerge to check on him. Their conversation was brief before Seager hobbled off the field.
The early diagnosis, Roberts said with some hesitation, was a Grade 2-plus hamstring strain. Grade 3 is the most severe on the scale. More tests, including an MRI exam, were scheduled for Wednesday. This much was immediately known: Seager is headed to the 10-day injured list.
“With what he's done to overcome a couple [of] surgeries this past year and to get back in to really good playing shape and productive playing shape, I feel bad,” Roberts said. “We all feel bad for Corey, but, you know, we'll know more, and he'll get back on the rehab trail and we'll get him back as soon as we can.”
Meantime, the Dodgers will give Chris Taylor the bulk of the starts at shortstop, with Enrique Hernandez occasionally spelling him. Matt Beaty, who is on the injured list with a hip injury, is the likely choice to replace Seager on the active roster Friday.
Beaty was scheduled to play his third game on a rehab assignment with Class-A Rancho Cucamonga on Wednesday. A 26-year-old rookie, Beaty is batting .286 with one extra-base hit in 17 games with the Dodgers. Taylor is hitting .218 with 53 strikeouts in 64 games.
Seager’s absence will leave a substantial void in an offense that has encountered a recent rough patch. Since May 21, Seager ranked fourth in the majors in batting average (.382), fifth in on-base-plus-slugging-percentage (1.118), and tied for second in doubles (10). His 1.5 Fangraphs WAR was second behind Mike Trout. In the 20-game span, his OPS bounced from .692 to .828.
The boom helped offset slumps throughout the Dodgers’ lineup — most notably from Cody Bellinger and Alex Verdugo, who carried the offense for stretches earlier in the season. The individual struggles have produced the Dodgers’ worst offensive stretch of the season. In six of their 10 games this month, the Dodgers have been held to three runs or fewer. In their two-game series loss to the Angels, they scored six runs, left 22 runners on base and went four for 25 with runners in scoring position.
“I think the last week to 10 days it's a pattern, and I think that there's a lot of spin against our guys, especially with men in scoring position that we're not making adjustments,” Roberts said. “We're just not doing a good enough job.”
Improving would’ve been simpler with Seager in the lineup every day.