Justin Turner — the most effective, most reliable hitter in the Dodgers lineup — received a day off on Tuesday against Cincinnati in what probably will be his last game on the bench for the remainder of the season, manager Dave Roberts said.
Slowed earlier in the season by a fractured wrist, Turner has caught fire in the second half. Since the All-Star break, he led all qualified hitters with a 1.163 on-base-plus-slugging percentage heading into Tuesday. Turner won National League player of the month for August when he hit .402 with a 1.213 OPS.
Turner is 33, and has undergone microfracture surgery on his knee. The Dodgers are wary of running him into the ground heading into the final weeks of the season. He reached base eight times last weekend in a series against Colorado, and Roberts noted the strain on Turner’s body.
“He’s showing signs of fatigue,” Roberts said. “And he’s not going to admit it, but there’s a high workload.”
With Turner resting, the Dodgers started Max Muncy at second base and installed him into the No. 2 spot in the lineup. Muncy might play more often down the stretch at second, as the Dodgers are experiencing diminishing returns with Brian Dozier.
Dozier had hit .193 as a Dodger heading into Tuesday. He mentioned over the weekend he was still feeling the effects of a bone bruise sustained in April while playing for Minnesota. The injury could be compromising Dozier at both the plate and the field.
The team may be willing to sacrifice some stability at defense to keep Muncy’s bat in the lineup. Muncy had appeared at second base in 12 games before Tuesday. His time there appeared up after Dozier arrived, but Dozier’s lack of production has created an opening.
Roberts indicated the decision to sit Turner on Tuesday was “very” difficult, given his prominence in the offense.
“Because you know you’re always better when he’s in the lineup,” Roberts said. “But part of why, over the last few years, he’s been healthy as far as the muscular type things is we’ve managed his workload.”