At Least Jimmy Rollins Is Making the Corey Seager Decision Easier

Earlier this month, there was a brief stir when Don Mattingly indicated that despite the immediate impact of Corey Seager, Jimmy Rollins would remain the starting shortstop:

“At this moment, we don’t have any plans. When Jimmy gets back, we plan on playing Jimmy,” Mattingly said.

That kicked off all the predictable “Mattingly is an idiot” complaints from the lesser corners of the internet, as though Seager’s .468 (at the time) batting average was exactly what he’d be doing indefinitely. (Or that Mattingly really was in a position to say anything else at all if he wanted to retain the respect of his veteran players.)

Still, the question of whether Mattingly (and, let’s be honest, the front office, because everyone’s involved here) really would go with the hot hand or the tested veteran in the playoffs was an interesting one, especially when it became clear that Seager was all but certain to make the postseason roster no matter what. But with the first game of the NLDS not starting until Oct. 9, there seemed plenty of time for that to sort itself out, presuming that Rollins would return healthy and/or Seager would run into the usual rookie difficulties.

Now? Now the injury concerns of Rollins and Justin Turner are making this question an easy one, and providing some unexpected hilarity in terms of how the team can even staff the left side of the infield right now despite expanded rosters. It’s now been more than two weeks, since Sept. 6, that Rollins’ finger was well enough for him to play the field, and as of yesterday, he’s “still days away from attempting to throw a baseball again.”

Turner, as you noticed yesterday, is out with a left knee issue:

“Justin obviously got sore in the game last night. We’ll watch him over the next few days, see how he does,” Mattingly said. “I don’t think it’s anything totally new, it just got flared up. We’ll just be cautious with him.”

Not that there’s any reason to rush either, of course, with the division race long over, but it’s making for some interesting depth issues. Without Rollins or Enrique Hernandez or Jose Peraza available to cover short, Seager can’t slide over to third. That means we’re actually seeing Alex Guerrero there after months of being a “break glass in case of emergency” guy — guess that time is now — and hearing again about possibly moving Chase Utley there. I don’t want to say I wish the Dodgers had held on to Darwin Barney just because, but, well, yeah.

Anyway, that it’s not ideal for the remainder of the regular season is mostly irrelevant, because these games don’t matter, and we’re still more than two weeks away from Game 1. But there’s only 14 games left, and no solid ETA for Rollins to be ready to return to the field. I don’t know what the right number of games played would be to feel comfortable with him being ready to go for the NLDS, ahead of Seager. I do know that the longer he’s out, the less an issue this becomes at all. At this point, the odds seem heavily tilted in Seager’s favor to be in the starting lineup for Game 1.

About Mike Petriello

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