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Dodgers

Dodgers mailbag: What’s the matter with Logan Forsythe?

ST. LOUIS, MO - MAY 30: Logan Forsythe #11 of the Los Angeles Dodgers breaks his bat but knocks in a
Dodgers’ Logan Forsythe breaks his bat but knocks in a run against St. Louis on May 30.
(Dilip Vishwanat / Getty Images)

The Dodgers are 39-25. That translates to a 99-win pace. Winner of four in a row, including a sweep of Cincinnati this weekend, the team still trails Colorado by a 1 1/2-game margin in the National League West. The Rockies haven’t slowed down. So the Dodgers must keep pushing to surpass them.

The team will spend this week in Ohio, with three games in Cleveland and Cincinnati. Downtown Cleveland could be wild this week — if the Cavaliers win Game 5 of the NBA Finals on Monday and force Golden State to travel back east for Game 6 on Thursday. The Dodgers play a day game on Thursday. Progressive Field is next door to Quicken Loans Arena.

It would be, as the kids say, lit.

Here are the pitching matchups for Dodgers-Indians:

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Tuesday: LHP Clayton Kershaw (8-2, 2.20 ERA) vs. RHP Trevor Bauer (5-5, 6.10 ERA).

Wednesday: RHP Brandon McCarthy (5-3, 3.28 ERA) vs. RHP Corey Kluber (5-2, 4.38 ERA).

Thursday: LHP Rich Hill (3-2, 3.77 ERA) vs. RHP Josh Tomlin (3-8, 5.73 ERA)

As always, there are plenty of other topics to discuss. You can send me questions on Twitter @McCulloughTimes. Let’s do this.

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Good question. When the Dodgers traded for Logan Forsythe this past winter, the team envisioned him as a dependable right-handed hitter who could balance the lineup, fill a void at second base and provide some versatility for when other players get injured. Instead, Forsythe was the one who got injured. Chris Taylor and Chase Utley have emerged as more reliable hitters who can also play second base. And Forsythe has looked lost at the plate, batting .196/.319/.258.

Manager Dave Roberts offered an explanation for Forsythe’s woes over the weekend. On April 18, a wayward fastball broke the big toe on Forsythe’s right foot. He missed more than a month. Roberts suggested the fracture was still hampering Forsythe.

“I don’t think Logan will ever make excuses, but that back foot that was hit and was fractured has affected him staying [balanced] on his back side,” Roberts said. “If you look at his hips, as he’s gathering [to hit], he can’t hold his position as much as he’d like.”

He continued, “But there’s also a component of him being too passive in the hitting zone. So that’s something our hitting guys have addressed. Trying to be a little extra aggressive on pitches in the strike zone.”

So, a bad combo: The body not cooperating and the approach drifting toward pacifism. Roberts stressed his hope that Forsythe will break out of his season-long slump. But with Taylor and Utley pushing for at-bats, Forsythe could get squeezed.

The Dodgers wanted to keep Kershaw on his regular five-day routine. So he switched places with McCarthy, who will get some extra rest.

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As early as Tuesday. Dave Roberts indicated the team could activate Pederson earlier than expected, depending on Adrian Gonzalez’s condition.

Speaking of Gonzalez . . .

“Done” feels too final for me. Remember: Chase Utley batted .122./.217/.146 in April. He has since upped his on-base plus slugging percentage to a much more palatable .782. Like Utley, Gonzalez is a veteran with an elite pedigree. It is quite possible he turns things around.

That said, much of this depends on the condition of his back. As Bill Shaikin reported on Sunday, Gonzalez felt his herniated disk flare up over the weekend. He has been marginally better (.265/.284/.397) since returning from the disabled list in May, but not significantly better when compared to his first month (.255/.327/.309). Gonzalez did show more power after a couple weeks off, but he continues to be mostly unproductive.

Gonzalez turned 35 last month. He has homered only once this season. He is slugging a career-low .339. Heading into Sunday’s games, 237 players had made 150 plate appearances or more. Only 19 had a lower slugging percentage than Gonzalez.

For the first time in a decade, Gonzalez is struggling to hit major-league fastballs. Take a look at how he punished fastballs throughout his career, according to FanGraphs’ calculations of runs above average against the pitch:

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2006: 15.9

2007: 19.7

2008: 10.4

2009: 29.6

2010: 20.1

2011: 40.0

2012: 12.5

2013: 18.9

2014: 18.6

2015: 16.6

2016: 12.6

2017: 0.0.

Even last season, when Gonzalez posted a .784 OPS, the lowest of his career in a full season, he could still turn around fastballs. Perhaps this skill disappeared overnight. But more likely, he has been dogged by the disc problems in his back, in addition to the inflammation in his elbow. He has admitted he should have started the season on the disabled list to rest his elbow. When he did land on the DL, for the first time in his career, his return was accelerated when Andrew Toles tore his ACL.

It would be unfair to say Gonzalez is “done” as an effective hitter. But if the club gives him extended time off, like a month or more, and he cannot produce, that should elicit serious concern. Time will tell.

They should consider it, at least. His defense may dampen some of the team’s interest in him, but Martinez is a dangerous right-handed hitter. He’s hit 10 homers in 28 games. He is slugging .705, as one of the leaders of the sport’s launch-angle revolution. The Dodgers don’t necessarily need him, and the Tigers could linger in the American League Central chase long enough to dash trade discussions. But Martinez still represents a significant offensive upgrade in right field.

Most likely, there won’t be an ideal player on the market. Both Martinez and Jose Bautista are defensively challenged. Lorenzo Cain is an elite defender, but less impactful as a hitter, and prone to injuries. Andrew McCutchen has .764 OPS. For me, Martinez and Bautista offer the most upside as hitters. I would make an aggressive pursuit of Bautista.

Luckily for the good people of Los Angeles — and for Dodgers’ fans across the globe — I am not in charge of the baseball operations department.

The Dodgers do not expect Andre Ethier to return from his herniated disc until after the All-Star break. So, at least another month.

No. It doesn’t make much sense to stretch Ross Stripling out, especially when Julio Urias is likely to rejoin the rotation at some point this month. Urias struck out eight in his last outing for triple-A Oklahoma City.

I voted for Rusty Kuntz to coach first base.

I like Smart Start. It’s got a good crunch to it. I also really like cinnamon-flavored Life, but that stuff is awful for you. My diet is bad enough already.

Never played much online — I deposited like $25 on Party Poker my freshman year of college, lost a few sit-n-gos and soon decided I preferred drinking Natural Light in random basements rather than multi-tabling alone in my dorm room. When I graduated high school, I felt there was a non-zero chance I would drop out of college to play poker full time. I am glad I did not. I got my degree, and started the path that led me to today, where I get to answer questions on the Internet from strangers. I wouldn’t change a thing.

As for this year’s World Series of Poker: If, in a smaller buy-in tourney around July 4, you see an oversized fellow wearing a Wonder Years T-shirt while three-betting too much and four-betting not nearly enough, stop by and say hello.

andy.mccullough@latimes.com

Twitter: @McCulloughTimes


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