Dodgers Dugout: What to do about Max Muncy

Max Muncy strikes out swinging.
Max Muncy
(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell, and the Dodgers went 6-1 last week. Guess the sky wasn’t falling after all.

What if I told you there was a team in the NL that featured these three players:

Player A is hitting .156/.331/.279

Player B is hitting .207/.265/.364

Player C is hitting .215/.285/.410

Player D has struck out 52 times in 125 at-bats.

And those three players are usually grouped somewhere between the fourth and eighth spot in the order. What would you guess the record of that team would be?

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Not great, probably. Of course, I’m talking about the Dodgers, with Player A (Max Muncy), B (Justin Turner), C (Cody Bellinger) and D (Chris Taylor). And that team is 27-13 and had won seven in a row before Muncy’s error in the 10th inning cost them Sunday’s game and an eighth straight win. Other than the strikeouts, Taylor has been a league average hitter this season (an OPS+ of 103), so let’s focus on the other three, looking at their numbers over the last two weeks:

Turner: .271/.340/.583
Bellinger: .200/.273/.360
Muncy: .191/.333/.262

OK, so it appears Turner figured out whatever was causing his slump. He is tied for the team lead with 29 RBIs and had 16 RBIs the last two weeks, more than runners-up Mookie Betts (11) and Edwin Ríos (11).

That brings us to Muncy, who has not hit well all season. He has an OPS+ of 76, meaning he is 24% worse than the average hitter in the NL. The only Dodger with a worse OPS+ is Hanser Alberto (55), who has had only 38 at-bats.

So how long to wait for Muncy to come around, considering Ríos is usually parked on the bench and hitting .267/.313/.622 with an OPS+ of 158?

We should all know the answer to this if we have paid attention to recent Dodgers history. The Dodgers do not give up on players quickly. They stuck with Bellinger for over two seasons while he was hitting worse than Muncy is now. Granted, Bellinger plays Gold Glove-level defense while Muncy ... does not play Gold Glove-level defense. Muncy isn’t hitting the ball as hard this year (his line-drive percentage was 22.8% last season. It’s 14% this year). You have to figure last season’s gruesome elbow injury is still affecting him.

The Dodgers always have such a good team that they can afford to be patient with players. If they were 17-23 instead of 27-13, maybe things would be different. But Muncy was an MVP candidate last season, so, as long as the team keeps winning, they can and will remain patient.


Now if you want to know what I’d do, I’d find a way to get Ríos more at-bats (and he has been getting more lately). I’d definitely drop Muncy down in the order. But, as has been said in this newsletter many times, 100% of the decisions I make while sitting on my couch work out perfectly.

The last two weeks

Let’s see how everyone has been doing the last two weeks:

Trea Turner: .364/.438/.527, 6 doubles, 1 homer, 9 RBIs
Edwin Ríos: .318/.375/.909, 1 double, 4 homers, 11 RBIs
Will Smith, .303/.410/.546, 2 doubles, 2 homers, 5 RBIs
Mookie Betts: .291/.371/.673, 6 doubles, 5 homers, 11 RBIs
Justin Turner, .271/.340/.583, 6 doubles, 3 homers, 16 RBIs
Freddie Freeman, .259/.375/.352, 5 doubles, 8 RBIs
Austin Barnes, .231/.333/.425, 2 doubles, 1 homer, 4 RBIs
Gavin Lux, .227/.292/.296, 3 doubles, 6 RBIs
Cody Bellinger, .200/.273/.360, 3 doubles, 1 triple, 1 homer, 4 RBIs
Hanser Alberto, .200/.200/.367, 1 double
Chris Taylor, .191/.306/.381, 2 doubles, 2 homers, 4 RBIs
Max Muncy, .191/.333/.262, 1 double, 1 triple, 2 RBIs

Team: .257/.347/.461, 38 doubles, 2 triples, 19 homers, 5.93 runs per game.

Main starting pitchers

Tony Gonsolin, 1.59 ERA, 17 IP, 7 hits, 7 walks, 19 K’s
Julio Urías, 3.71 ERA, 17 IP, 21 hits, no walks, 12 K’s
Tyler Anderson, 6.23 ERA, 13 IP, 17 hits, no walks, 12 K’s
Walker Buehler, 6.30 ERA, 10 IP, 15 hits, 3 walks, 7 K’s

Key relievers

Evan Phillips, 0.00 ERA, 5 IP, 6 hits, 3 walks, 7 K’s
Justin Bruihl, 0.00 ERA, 3 IP, 2 hits, 2 walks, 2 K’s
Yency Almonte,1.50 ERA, 6 IP, 4 hits, 4 walks, 7 K’s
Phil Bickford, 4.05 ERA, 6.2 IP, 8 hits, 1 walk, 5 K’s
Daniel Hudson, 5.06 ERA, 5.1 IP, 5 hits, 1 walk, 4 K’s, 1 save
Alex Vesia, 5.40 ERA, 5 IP, 4 hits, 2 walks, 6 K’s
Craig Kimbrel, 6.23 ERA, 4.1 IP, 5 hits, 1 walk, 10 K’s, 4 saves
Brusdar Graterol, 6.35 ERA, 5.2 IP. 5 hits, 2 walks, 4 K’s
Mitch White, 9.82 ERA, 3.2 IP, 2 hits, 2 walks, 5 K’s

Team: 8-6, 4.15 ERA, 125.2 IP, 124 hits, 44 walks, 123 K’s

Blake Treinen gets an extension

Blake Treinen was signed to a one-year, $8-million contract extension Sunday. He is currently on the injured list because of a shoulder injury, his eventual return date unknown except that it will be after the All-Star break.

Lamb and Pillar

Many of you have asked how Jake Lamb and Kevin Pillar, two veterans signed before the season, are doing at triple-A Oklahoma City. Here you go:

Lamb: .278/.380/.526, 3 doubles, 10 homers
Pillar: .309/.405/.626, 6 doubles, 3 triples, 9 homers

We’ll look at the Dodgers’ top prospects next time.

Ask Tim Leary

Former Dodger pitcher Tim Leary, a standout on the 1988 World Series championship team, has agreed to answer reader questions. Leary was acquired along with Tim Crews from the Milwaukee Brewers before the 1987 season in exchange for Greg Brock. He went 3-11 with a 4.76 ERA in 1987 before an excellent 1988 when he went 17-11 with a 2.91 ERA and six shutouts. He was 6-7 with a 3.38 ERA when the Dodgers traded him and Mariano Duncan to the Cincinnati Reds for Kal Daniels and Lenny Harris.

Leary was also a heck of a hitter, and fans of that 1988 team will remember the time he pinch-hit in the 11th inning of a 1-1 game with the San Francisco Giants. With the bases loaded and two out, Leary laced a Joe Price pitch up the middle for the walk-off win. He won the Silver Slugger award that season after hitting .269 with three doubles and nine RBIs. And he hit .304 in 1987.

Send in your questions for Tim by emailing me at Leary will answer selected questions in a future Dodgers Dugout.

Injury report

10-day IL

Andrew Heaney, LHP, left shoulder discomfort. He threw a bullpen session Friday. He will throw another session, then face hitters, then need a rehab assignment in the minors. If all those things go well, he could be back in mid to late June.

15-day IL

Note: Now that we are past May 2, the 10-day IL becomes the 15-day IL for pitchers and two-way players only and will remain that way for the rest of the season. Non-pitchers will still go on the 10-day IL.

Tommy Kahnle, RHP, forearm discomfort. He won’t resume throwing until the first week of June but is expected back at some point this season.

Clayton Kershaw, LHP, SI joint inflammation. What is the SI joint? According to the Mayo Clinic (and they ought to know), “the sacroiliac (SI) joint is located in the pelvis. It links the iliac bone (pelvis) to the sacrum (lowest part of the spine above the tailbone). This joint transfers weight and forces between your upper body and legs. It is an essential component for energy transfer between the legs and the torso.” Kershaw had a setback last week and it was decided not to have him throw from a mound yet. He is currently home in Texas and there is no timetable for his return.

60-day IL

Danny Duffy, LHP, left elbow. He is throwing pain free and could be back after the All-Star break. Back being a relative term since he has never actually pitched for the Dodgers.

Victor González, LHP, left elbow inflammation. Transferred to the 60-day IL last week. He had arthroscopic surgery and he could return in August.

Dustin May, RHP, Tommy John surgery. May is throwing off a mound and has begun to mix in breaking pitches among his fastballs. He is still scheduled to be back in August or September.

Jimmy Nelson, RHP, Tommy John surgery. It is extremely unlikely that he pitches for the Dodgers this season.

Blake Treinen, RHP, right shoulder discomfort. He hasn’t thrown for a couple of weeks and probably won’t be back until well after the All-Star break.

26-man roster

The current 26-man roster:

Pitchers (14)
Yency Almonte
*Tyler Anderson
Phil Bickford
*Justin Bruihl
Walker Buehler
Tony Gonsolin
Brusdar Graterol
Daniel Hudson
Craig Kimbrel
Evan Phillips
*David Price
*Julio Urías
*Alex Vesia
Mitch White

Catchers (2)
Austin Barnes
Will Smith

Infielders (7)
Hanser Alberto
Freddie Freeman
Gavin Lux
Max Muncy
Edwin Ríos
Justin Turner
Trea Turner

Outfielders (3)
Cody Bellinger
Mookie Betts
Chris Taylor

These names seem familiar

A look at how players who were with the Dodgers last season are doing this season for other teams (through Sunday):

Matt Beaty, Padres, 37 at-bats, .108/.175/.189, 9 OPS+, on IL with a shoulder injury

Josiah Gray, Nationals, 4-3, 4.36 ERA, 43.1 IP, 37 hits, 18 walks, 46 K’s

Kenley Jansen, Braves, 2-0, 3.06 ERA, 17.2 IP, 9 hits, 5 walks, 25 K’s, 10 saves

Joe Kelly, White Sox, 0-1, 10.80 ERA, 5 IP, 8 hits, 6 walks, 6 K’s

Corey Knebel, Phillies, 1-3, 3.18 ERA, 17 IP, 14 hits, 8 walks, 15 K’s, 8 saves

Sheldon Neuse, A’s, 138 at-bats, .261/.320/.355, 104 OPS+

AJ Pollock, White Sox, 94 at-bats, .245/.277/.383, 92 OPS+

Albert Pujols, Cardinals, 65 at-bats, .231/.333/.436, 128 OPS+

Jake Reed, Mets, 1-0, 0.00 ERA, 3 IP, 0 hits, 2 walks, 2 K’s

Keibert Ruiz, Nationals, 118 at-bats, .288/.351/.390, 120 OPS+

Dennis Santana, Rangers, 2-1, 2.25 ERA, 12 IP, 6 hits, 2 walks, 6 K’s

Max Scherzer, Mets, 5-1, 2.54 ERA, 49.2 IP, 36 hits, 11 walks, 59 K’s, on 15-day IL with strained left oblique

Corey Seager, Rangers, 151 at-bats, .245/.315/.430, 118 OPS+

Steven Souza Jr., Mariners, 19 at-bats, .158/.158/.158, -4 OPS+, designated for assignment

Yoshi Tsutsugo, Pirates, 105 at-bats, .181/.291/.267, 64 OPS+

Edwin Uceta, Diamondbacks, 0-0, 9.64 ERA, 4.2 IP, 5 hits, 4 walks, 2 strikeouts, sent to minors

Andrew Vasquez, Blue Jays, 0-0, 13.50 ERA, 2.2 IP, 4 hits, 2 walks, 4 K’s

Up next

Today: Dodgers (*Tyler Anderson, 4-0, 4.04 ERA) at Washington (Joan Adon, 1-7, 6.38 ERA), 4 p.m., SportsNet LA, AM 570, KTNQ 1020

Tuesday: Dodgers (Walker Buehler, 5-1, 2.89 ERA) at Washington (Josiah Gray, 4-3, 4.36 ERA), 4 p.m., SportsNet LA, AM 570, KTNQ 1020

Wednesday: Dodgers (*Julio Urías, 3-3, 2.63 ERA) at Washington (Erick Fedde, 2-3, 4.08 ERA), 1 p.m., SportsNet LA, AM 570, KTNQ 1020


Stories you might have missed

Blake Treinen agrees to Dodgers contract extension, but will he pitch again in 2022?

And finally

Roy Firestone interviews Vin Scully. Watch and listen here.

Until next time...

Have a comment or something you’d like to see in a future Dodgers newsletter? Email me at, and follow me on Twitter at @latimeshouston. To get this newsletter in your inbox, click here.