AJ Ellis has been red hot of late, hitting .333 since the first of September. This is good for anyone but for AJ and a catcher, a position the Dodgers have struggled with offensively for sometime, this is outstanding. I know it isn’t a whole year’s worth of stats but with the play offs coming round the corner this is a good sign for everyone involved, especially considering Don Mattingly thinks of Ellis as “just a back up”.
Yasmani Grandal is the complete opposite, brought over to help with offense as well as defence with only AJ and Drew Butera being the stock at the time, Yas has definitely done that in his relatively short tenure with LA. However the now injured catcher has some problems, he is 0 for his last 33, he has a bung left shoulder and his swing isn’t what it used to be, especially in this slump.
The first problem that LA and Donnie come up with is simply do they need him. Do the Dodgers need to risk the injury more for the sake of playoffs during September and the early days in October or do they rest him up and get him ready for the run to the pennant. This is a hard question for anyone and the fact he is on the slump he is doesn’t help. I’m sure all of the coaching staff would like to get Grandal out of the slump no matter how desperate the measure. The training staff would have other ideas.
The team however mightn’t need him for the rest of the regular season seeing as the lead has ballooned over the last 15 days or so, almost the length of the slump, out to 8.5 games after today’s 7-5 win against the Angels of Anaheim. The Dodgers should make the playoffs as leaders of the West but if a magical run by the Giants is in order then Yasmani’s role will not be understated in the close games.
Donnie has already said that Yasmani will be the starter and he will be ahead of AJ no matter how bad this streak gets but after the seemingly under presented information the public had on the catcher’s shoulder and it being worse than once thought, this might change into being a spell on the DL or possibly a recovery stint in AAA or AA depending on what they feel Yasmani needs.
So that begs the question, what does Yasmani need? Why can’t he find the outfield grass for hits?
The simple answer for this is everything, during his 0-33 streak there isn’t one thing the switch hitter hasn’t tried, the confidence is gone, the ability in himself has disappeared and he hasn’t been able to help the team in many ways at all one the offensive side. This is from his need to compete and he wants to help, you can see it in his play. He still hustles out grounders and gets the bunts down when he needs to but just can’t hit when he wants.
This competitive edge that he has and the hunger to please his manager, teammates and fans will get him back in the swing of things come the playoffs should that shoulder heal and it will happen no matter where he is playing, be it back up, starter or even in the minors.