On the long list of things the Dodgers have to worry about, suddenly there is the bat of A.J. Ellis.
Ellis has been a revelation this season, giving the Dodgers superior defensive play, incredible leadership and better-than-dreamed offense. He’s been an on-base machine. All in his first season as the regular catcher.
Only now Ellis is clearly wearing down. He’s lost some bat speed. His throws to second are not quite as crisp. I’m not even sure he’s moving quite as well behind the plate.
Ellis has already appeared in 125 games in easily baseball’s most demanding position. The most games he’s ever appeared in the majors until this season was 44 in 2010. The most games he’s ever appeared in during his professional career is 109 for double-A Jacksonville in 2007.
It’s having an impact. Ellis is without a hit in his last 28 at-bats. And without a walk. The only time he got on base in that stretch, he was hit by a pitch.
It’s yet one more thing that leaves Manager Don Mattingly in a precarious position. Matt Treanor is a career backup who is batting only .182. There are only 10 games left to the season, with the Dodgers desperately trying to latch on to the final playoff spot.
Ellis may be rested in tonight’s twilight game, but Mattingly has little choice but to ride him out and hope he finds some second, or third, wind. Ellis has been somewhat unheralded this season, but the Dodgers are not the team they want to be without him.